SGA candidates discuss parking, safety in town hall

Anticipating the upcoming general election at UNT, the Student Government Association held a town hall meeting Tuesday in the University Union where students could ask candidates questions about issues facing the university.

The three presidential and vice presidential candidates took questions from students both on Twitter and in the audience, giving their various opinions. Students’ questions ranged from issues with student parking to safety on campus.

Running mates Tiffany Miller and Mia Muric drew upon their involvement in various sexual violence awareness organizations to describe how they planned to handle sexual assault on campus.

“We would continue to attend those meetings as well as finding out what we can grasp from those meetings and bring out to students,” Muric said. “We were intending to expand upon the sexual assault awareness month and have that for the spring semester and the fall semester.”

The other two candidacy teams said they also hope to push awareness and raise student confidence and decrease shame, through the Student Wellness Center in Chesnut Hall. Running mates Roberto Navarro and Steven Maldonado placed a heavy emphasis on this.

“A lot of students don’t know about [these services],” Navarro said. “They don’t know where to go. They don’t know who to talk to. There are students who have already gone through this. They can give testimonies and provide support, and this exists on campus: student-to-student support. But it needs to be known on campus.”

Navarro and Maldonado said that they want to increase campus safety after dark, by increasing the quantity of the UNT police emergency phone stations across campus. They also said that they would like to create more lighting around campus and make the lighting more technologically advanced by means of motion sensors.

Barrett Cole and Lisa Umeh also said that they want to increase the amount of lighting on campus but want to consider more long-term, permanent solutions. They said they hope to do so in conjunction with the City of Denton’s transportation committee rather than the temporary lighting the university has erected in the lots near Victory Hall.

“I met with the city and their transportation safety committee and all those lights are technically city property,” Cole said. “It’s important for us to make sure that they know what students are going through every day, and that includes lots of follow-up.”

Miller and Muric, on the other hand, want to have the university police force patrol the parking lots at night more frequently and add security cameras to buildings that don’t currently have them. To accomplish this, they suggest increasing the student transportation fees, which they said haven’t changed in 14 years.

Miller and Muric also expressed a desire to address the parking issue on campus, citing that parking at UNT has been an issue long before either of them became students.

Miller, herself, has worked for the Parking and Transportation Department at UNT and recalled an incident in which she noticed a faculty and staff lot, between two student dorms, that was often empty and suggested to her superiors that the lot be changed to an Eagle Annual student lot. She said that within two weeks, the department made the changes she suggested. She has also introduced legislation to SGA in the past that suggested the elongation of the night time e-ride hours.

“We just want to park and go to class,” Miller said. “We understand that. And our goal in relations to faculty and administration is to make them understand.”

Maldonado said that although the team hasn’t done anything tangible to deal with the parking issue yet, they have arranged a meeting with Geary Robinson, director of transportation services.

Umeh and Cole said one of the largest issues with the parking system is that there is little to no communication between students and those who make vital decisions. They said more students’ voices need to be heard, and to do so they suggested adding more student representatives to the City of Denton’s transportation committees.

All three candidacy teams seemed to share one sentiment, that UNT is much greater than it seems. Miller discussed the fantastic departments, faculty, and colleges within the UNT system, while Maldonado expressed his hope for the future of UNT’s athletic programs. Umeh said that it all starts with students and the pride they hold in their own school.