SA Assembly discusses a potential petition website for UB students
More than 2,900 signatures on an online petition in February helped make UB change how it alerts students about busing delays in bad weather. Now, UB students could have their own platform to petition for changes at the university.
Madelaine Britt*, a junior political science major and Student Association Assembly member, advocated at an SA Assembly meeting Wednesday night in the Student Union for a website that would allow UB students to create petitions strictly concerning issues and policies at the university.
“It gives students the ability to be involved in administration,” Britt said at the meeting.
The website is currently in the design process and both Britt and SA Assembly Speaker Melissa Kathan agreed, the main issue with the site is funding. The assembly will need to vote at a later meeting to approve the financing of the site.
They currently have a $200 line and if they don’t use the money, it returns to the general SA fund.
Britt said the website template they hope will host the potential website would cost $60 the first year and $120 for the second. Kathan said this would pose an issue because the budget changes yearly and it would not be guaranteed the $120 owed for the website would be available.
The website would strengthen the link between the student body’s concerns and the student government’s ability to fix the issues, Britt said.
After a petition reaches 100 signatures, the issue would be brought to the SA Senate or Assembly to consider. After SA reviews the petition, it would bring it before UB administration to review in hopes of changes accommodating what the students are petitioning for.
Joe Jessee, a senior biomedical sciences major, created an online petition in February on Change.org for UB to improve its communication with students about bus delays during winter storms. Less than a week later, UB changed its text message alert system to include Stampede delays.
Britt said the petition website would also allow students to announce on-campus scheduled protests to get word out and see if there was student interest in the protest topic, like a calendar.
The calendar would then notify students “this is what the protest is, this is where it’s at,” she said. This way, students are not only alerted of potential protests they may be interested in, but the person organizing the protest would also be able to see how many people are interested in participating, according to Britt.
Some SA Assembly members voiced concerns about the petitions remaining appropriate and serious. Although students will have to login with their UBIT name to post a petition, protest or signature, the SA Assembly members said they would have to monitor the site to make sure “it doesn’t get out of hand.”
“We need a lot of help; a lot of oversight,” Britt said.
She said she hopes creating the new website will help students start these petitions on a site dedicated to strictly UB issues. Although she said there are still a few issues being worked out, Britt is looking forward to the possibilities this website could bring to UB students.
“I’m really hoping students get really involved with this,” she said.
The next SA Assembly meeting will be on March 25 at 8 p.m. in the Student Union.
*Madelaine Britt worked for The Spectrum in the spring of 2014
Marlee Tuskes is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org