Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Guest Blogger: The OMSA Advisory Board

For those of you not familiar with the OMSA Advisory Board, we are a group of students that meet every other week with AnaVázquez, Deputy Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and members of the administration to discuss various issues concerning the student body. We work with the administration to discuss and attempt to resolve a wide array of issues, ranging from cultural studies programs to safety concerns on campus.

The first board meeting of the 2009-2010 academic school year largely focused on safety concerns so we decided to invite Marlon Lynch, Associate VP for Safety and Security and Chief of Police for the next meeting. We also discussed the changes in student housing and dining. As we all know, the campus dining halls switched to an all-you-can-eat buffet set up this year, and many students have expressed concern regarding this change. During the Advisory Board meeting, some students expressed disappointment in the time constraint that buffet style dining imposes on their work schedules. They are no longer permitted to take meals to-go, causing some students to feel that they are forced to choose between their schoolwork and a hot meal! These students expressed that they do not have enough time to sit down for a full meal, and need the opportunity to eat while doing their school work (as goes life at the UofC). There seemed to be a general tone of dissatisfaction with the change; however, students did express excitement about the possibility of building community while sitting down to eat. We plan to follow up with Dining Services in regards to this issue.

The second board meeting addressed safety concerns on campus. The Advisory Board had the pleasure of meeting with Marlon Lynch, the new Associate Vice President for Safety and Security. Students expressed concern about “safe ride” transportation services and a possible weekend bus route to take students downtown. Lynch informed the Board that regular campus shuttles now run until 3am on weekends instead of 1am, which is expected to alleviate Safe Ride response time and availability concerns. Lynch also expressed that he is obliged to keep safety and the limited transportation budget in mind when addressing such concerns, so the campus will experiment with a pilot downtown route before fully committing to a regular system. With respect to safety concerns walking around Hyde Park, Lynch suggested that students think twice before walking the streets with I-pods in their ears and expensive electronics in their bags. Although UCPD is stationed within the South Campus Resident Hall and Max Palevsky, there is a focus to teach crime prevention and it will require a certain level of cautiousness on the students’ behalf to lower the frequency of crimes of opportunity on campus.
Updates on the upcoming third meeting will be posted soon, so look out for that!

Also, please feel free to contact students on the Advisory Board with any questions or concerns. You can email me, Tsion Gurmu, directly at tgurmu@uchicago.edu. Also, please feel free to contact any of the other students on our staff page.

Hope to hear from you soon!