Student Senate Discusses Car Sharing Program
Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi, along with Director of Transportation and Parking Marty Paulins, Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s Director of Business Rental Sales Jim Wissel and Business Rental Sales Executive Marissa Nye met with Senate in order to discuss the car sharing program that may be implemented.
The program, WeCar, allows for members to have short-time use of a community car. Members would simply check for car availability online then rent a car for an hourly, daily or overnight rate with 200 miles free.
This program’s only requirements would be a valid driver’s license and a student over 18 years of age as opposed to the general rental rules requiring the renter to be 21 years old. This would add to the appeal of the program to first and second-year students.
“That’s a big deal,” said Wissel. “…If you’re under 21, you really don’t have any options.”
Another benefit to the program would be the sustainability aspect. “[It would] reduce the number of cars on campus and reduce our carbon footprint … it’s all another piece in the puzzle,” said Paulins.
And while the program would be through the university, the risk involved would be minimal. “There’s not a lot of risk upfront to the university,” said Lombardi, “The company provides a car, and what they often do look for in these contracts is some kind of guarantee that we would generate a certain amount of revenue … They’re very low so there’s very very little risk to the university.”
Lombardi and Paulins are still looking into student feedback before proceeding into further talks with Enterprise, though the prospects look good for an OU car sharing program.
“Everything I’ve heard so far has been positive,” said Lombardi. “We’ll move forward!”
“It’s really a partnership,” said Wissel, “because we can’t do it without the marketing of the university.”
Lombardi projects for the program to be implemented in fall 2012 with summer orientation being a testing period.
With a possible resolution being crafted for next week, student trustee voting rights also came into the spotlight for Senate members.
State and Federal Affairs Commissioner Taylor Abbott and Ohio Student Government Association Delegate Stephanie Stark took on the issue of these rights during their presentation, asking Senate to take a stand on HB 377.
HB 377 would allow for student trustees to vote on Board issues while prohibiting the disqualification of candidates due to financial aid or student employment.
While this would allow for direct input of student trustees at all Ohio Universities, this is often considered too big of a responsibility for students while causing possible conflicts of interest. However, if HB 377 were passed, student trustees would be able to abstain from votes.
“What I think is most important is that … it gives student trustees at all public institutions in Ohio the direct impact,” said Stark. “I know that our student trustees are saying that they are heard and that they are respected, but that might not be the case in eight years … and it might not be true at other public schools.”
However, Student Trustees Dani Parker and Allison Arnold still maintain that trustee voting rights, at least at OU, are unnecessary.
“I never said that I was against Student Trustee voting rights,” said Parker, “ I believe that at Ohio University it’s not necessary … and I’ve never had an opportunity or an instance where I’ve felt like I’ve needed a vote … In my personal experience, have I seen it to be necessary? No. But that’s not the experience of all the student trustees around the state.”
Allison Arnold, in a Jan. 18 presentation to Student Senate, agreed with Parker, after running on the platform of student trustee voting rights.
“After being on the Board and hearing how much my opinion matters and seeing that two years might not be long enough to have a scope to vote … I have definitely aligned to the side that student trustee voting rights are not necessary,” said Arnold.
Whatever the personal views of Senate members and of Ohio University Student Trustees may be, Abbott believes that the Ohio House needs to hear a unified opinion from Ohio University. “They need something from universities and I think we’re a good start,” said Abbott.