Mike Brown elected 2018-19 UB Council student representative

Current Council student representative re-elected for a second term

Students elected Mike Brown for a second term as UB Council student representative. Brown wants to improve parking, continue supporting efforts to get the UB Foundation to divest from fossil fuels and implement a new student-centric budgeting process.

The UB Council student representative election took place online from April 24 to 26. Brown, a junior political science and computer science major, ran unopposed. Four hundred and forty three students voted in the election. Brown received 370 votes, and 73 voters abstained.

As the UB Council’s student representative, Brown sits on the University Council, which is the primary oversight and advisory body to UB, its president and senior officers. He serves as a representative for UB’s roughly 30,000 students and is chair for the Council of Advocacy and Leadership, a committee consisting of members from UB’s seven student governments. Brown also serves as an ex-officio member of the Faculty Staff Senate.

“I’m really glad that people trust me to be re-elected,” Brown said. “A lot of progress is being made on different issues, and being in the role for a year already I now know how it works, so I am looking forward to this upcoming [year].”

Brown said he thinks his biggest accomplishment as UB Council student representative during the 2017-18 school year was getting some late-night busing reinstated after UB decided to cut all late night busing as a measure to deter partying in the University Heights neighborhood.

“The busing decision was something that required all stakeholders to have a voice at the table,” Brown said. “It did take a lot of meetings and putting our voice out there through local media and having students show up at actual community meetings to show that we care about this issue. We wanted a solution that works best for everyone, and I think that’s ultimately what the shuttle option was.”

Brown also cites Fossil Free UB’s activism as an important accomplishment. Advocating for the UB Foundation to divest from fossil fuels was one of the platforms Brown ran on last year.

“Although we haven't seen the results yet, there is a lot to be really proud of for the Fossil Free UB team,” Brown said. “That also shows the importance of being active student leaders and recognizing that for a lot of these things, it shouldn’t just be the elected student officials doing all the work –– they need to work collaboratively with the entire student body.”

For his next term as council representative, Brown wants to introduce a student-centric budgeting system called participatory budgeting. The system is based on the structure of some city government budgets that allow community members to decide how city money is spent.

At UB, participatory budgeting would involve students submitting ideas for what projects they would like to see their money go toward –– for example, a heated bus stop, Brown said. Student volunteers, called budget delegates, would create formal budget proposals based on student input and students would be able to vote on which proposals they want to see implemented.

Brown hopes if participatory budgeting is enacted, it could be a step toward giving students more of a say in the comprehensive fee.

“Right now there’s just a [comprehensive fee] consultation, and there’s a lot of disillusionment about the consultation results and if they even go anywhere,” Brown said. “[Participatory budgeting] gives students real power over real decisions on how [the administration] spends real student money.”

Brown also plans to work with UB Transportation Director Chris Austin on addressing the parking issues on campus. Brown believes a simple solution would be installing electric signs outside parking lots.

“So a simple thing would be electronic signs outside, perhaps just one in busiest parking lots,” Brown said. “We would work with the engineering school to implement a sensor or camera ... that tracks how many cars are in the parking lot currently, so you don’t drive around only to find nothing.”

Brown said he also wants to address food insecurity on campus, find a solution to more strictly police the UB Smoke Free policy and advocate for more mental health resources.

He said a big focus next term will be to develop underclassmen into student leaders.

“Bringing more voices to the table, lifting up current undergrads who are either first years or sophomores and helping them figure out how they can become active on campus, and get involved in these issues and take leadership once we graduate,” Brown said.

The biggest lesson Brown said he has learned during his term as UB Council student representative is that he cannot fix UB’s problems all by himself.

“A huge thing is recognizing when you as an individual representative don’t necessarily have any decision making power. The entire role is about working with others,” Brown said. “The only way any way of these issues can be successful is through broad-based collaboration.”

Maddy Fowler is the editorial editor and can be reached at maddy.fowler@ubspectrum.com and @mmfowler13.