UB Student Assoication Assembly talks University Heights and Uber

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The Student Association Assembly is hoping to help tackle two of more talked about topics for students: the University Heights and Uber.

The Assembly discussed creating taskforce committees for issues in the Heights neighborhood and the possibilities of bringing car-sharing services like Lyft and Uber to Buffalo. “UB administration has reached out to me about the issues surrounding the Heights,” said SA President Minahil Khan. “We came up with the idea of having student representatives to the Heights to be able to speak on the student perspective.”

Student parties in the Heights have been an ongoing issue for residents in the area. UB disciplined 57 students for partying in the Heights through the first few weeks of the semester.

The plan for the task force is still in its infancy but the Assembly discussed who should be on the panel.

Students proposed that Assembly members make up the task force, but since most assembly members are freshmen and sophomores, some members felt that would be unfair. The Assembly decided the taskforce would include not only Assembly members, but students passionate about the Heights and students who live in the area as well.

SA also discussed new ride sharing services coming to Buffalo.

Members discussed Syracuse Student Association Government President Boris Gresely’s proposal to bring services such as Uber and Lyft to Western New York.

The letter was a draft for a bill, but many SA Assembly members felt that while it was a good start, it lacked formality.

“It needed more work with formality and its facts and statistics,” said Cheryl Porzi, a sophomore occupational therapy major.

While Uber and Lyft would provide another way for students to get around Buffalo, the assembly was more skeptical of its capabilities.

Many felt that bringing these services to Buffalo would only be sensible if they could solve more problems than they could create. One member said that Uber would be cheap and safer than having students drinking and driving.

There have been recent concerns with Uber. An Uber driver in Massachusetts was recently sentenced to 10-12 years in prison for raping a woman he picked up. Members also had concerns that potentially drunk students would be targets for criminal drivers.

An Assembly member who works in a law office said that lawmakers would likely see the need for Uber as a drinking problem rather than a safety proposition. The possibility of services coming to Buffalo is in its first stages, but the Assembly felt that the cons to Uber should be recognized.

Wednesday’s meeting started off with elections to committees within assembly. The committees included the Environmental Affairs Committee, which focuses on methods of sustainability and the Rules Committee, which discusses changes to in the SA and discusses the constitution.

Malik Davies, a junior chemical engineering major, was nominated to receive a spot on the Environmental Affairs Committee.

“I work with the Office of Sustainability as a metric coordinator, which is a student position,” Davies said. “I think sustainability is important and it interests me.”

The Assembly concluded the meeting with a discussion of the Maintenance of Effort Bill.

The bill proposes that all increases in tuition would be capped and directly related to educational purposes. Assembly members were given postcards, which would be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to urge him to sign the bill.

If Cuomo signs, there will be a slight rise in SUNY tuition.

The next assembly meeting will be held on Nov. 11.

Thanya Theogene is a staff writer and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com.