By Alyssa Sanford
Brian Potter, a political science professor at the College and a member of the President’s Climate Commitment Committee (PC3), spoke at Student Government’s (SG) Wednesday, Feb. 10, general body meeting about green initiatives on campus, including a new ridesharing service exclusive to the College.
Because PC3 has identified that 80 percent of the College’s carbon emissions comes from energy usage on campus and the remaining 20 percent comes from commuting, the committee drafted the help of computer science majors from the College to design a ridesharing app called TCNJ Rideshare, available on Apple and Android devices.
“It’s like Uber, but it’s free and limited to the TCNJ community,” Potter said.
In order to use the service, students, faculty and staff create accounts using their College email addresses and then enter information about their cars if they wish to offer rides to people on campus. Those who need a ride may make a ride request and will be matched with a driver who is going to the same location, or two drivers can use the chat function to determine who will drive, Potter explained.
“We need a certain threshold of people to use (the app),” Potter said. “It doesn’t work if only three people are using it. Once we get up to hundreds of users, it’ll take off.”
When President R. Barbara Gitenstein signed the PC3 pledge in Spring 2007, she made a commitment to monitor the College’s carbon emissions. The ridesharing app will calculate how significantly carbon emissions are reduced with each carpool, Potter said.
Although the service is free and those who request rides are not obligated to compensate their drivers, Potter pointed out some incentives to offer rides. For example, there are four designated spots in front of both Lots 5 and 7 that will be reserved for those who frequently offer rides for a month at a time.
Potter said that the service is intended for both commuters and residential students, but he doesn’t expect that it will compete with the Loop Bus service or Campus Town’s Enterprise Rent-a-Car service. As the Loop Bus follows “a fixed route” and Potter feels as though many students are not taking advantage of the Enterprise service on campus, he believes that TCNJ Rideshare can be extremely beneficial.
As for improved sustainability efforts on campus, Potter said that the College had prepared grants and proposals through the federal government for solar panels and window replacements to cut down on energy usage, but “that was pulled out from under us.” At this time, the cost to implement these changes is prohibitive, Potter said.
Potter also fielded questions about composting on campus. He acknowledged the Bonner Center’s monthly plate scraping initiatives and said that while a lot of food is wasted on a daily basis, “composting is not feasible for us money-wise” at present.
Prior to Potter’s presentation, the Korean Student Association came before the general body to seek formal SG recognition of their organization.
Previously, the Korean Student Association presented to Governmental Affairs (GA) on Nov. 8, 2015, and they voted unanimously in favor of the organization. The Korean Student Association needed SG recognition in order to secure funding from Student Finance Board (SFB) for events on campus, including a variety show.
At each meeting, members discuss current events in North Korea and South Korea, learn the Korean alphabet, as well as some common words and phrases, and break off into “families” that engage in conversations related to Korean culture, club representatives said.
A main concern among SG members was that the club wouldn’t be sustainable because the representatives were all seniors, but representatives assured the general body that three freshmen sit on the executive board and that there are many underclassmen involved in the club. Approximately 50 students belong to the Korean Student Association because the club is open to students of all backgrounds, representatives said.
After a lengthy debate, SG members overwhelmingly voted in favor of formally recognizing the Korean Student Association.
President Casey Dowling swore in the new speaker of the general assembly, Megan Vantslot, at the beginning of the meeting.
Darshak Vekaria, vice president of Academic Affairs, spoke about a proposal to the College’s provost Jacqueline Taylor about the extended library hours during finals week. Although SFB granted funding for extended library hours for the last two semesters, SFB stipulated that SG could no longer use Student Activity Fee (SAF) funding because those fees are intended for programming, not academic events, Dowling explained.
Dana Disarno, alternate student trustee, also mentioned that SG can’t ask for funding through the Office of Student Affairs because “we’re a very mindful campus” and to keep the library open 24/7 would be “promoting unhealthy living.”
The proposal would ask Taylor to include the cost of keeping the library open 24/7 in the budget so that SG doesn’t have to apply for SFB funding each semester. In addition, Vekaria proposes that the College seek an outside sponsor to fund the 24/7 library hours event.
Ceili Boles, vice president of Governmental Affairs, announced that the deadline for organizations to undergo constitutional review has passed. The clubs that didn’t respond to several email reminders from GA to update their constitutions will now have their Lion’s Gate accounts frozen and will not be able to book rooms or post flyers for events, Boles said.
“We really want to get these clubs back in action and functioning,” said Boles, who advised affected clubs and organizations to get in contact with Devan Kowalek, the program assistant for Student Engagement who manages the Lion’s Gate system, in order to take the appropriate next steps.
Later, junior class President Robert Kinloch announced that TCNJ’s Got Talent will be held on Wednesday, March 9, with further details forthcoming. In past years, the show was held in Kendall Hall.
Sophomore class president Kelsey Capestro said that the class will co-sponsor a blood drive with TCNJ EMS in the T/W Lounge on Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.