Borough Council Approves Student Seat
A chorus of ayes. Just like that, and the State College Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution creating a student seat on the Council. A formal connection between town and gown has now been established. “It is a historic moment,” said State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham.
The Council did not discuss the resolution at tonight’s meeting before voting on it; it was officially approved in under a minute. The discussion was largely held in other contexts; the bill was not simply flung at the Council for a vote. University Park Undergraduate Association President Christian Ragland, and Vice President Colleen Smith, first approached the Council in August regarding the student seat. “I have to confess,” said Council Member Silvi Lawrence at tonight’s meeting, “at first I was a bit skeptical. But since then you’ve been able to convince me that this is a good thing for everyone.”
Former UPUA President Gavin Keirans remarked, “The relationship with the Borough has really matured over the past few years.” Evidently, the time was just right for Ragland and Smith to run on a platform that included getting a student representative on the Council. “It was one of the hardest things on our platform,” said Ragland, “and people were saying we couldn’t get it done.” He also said he was surprised at how soon he was able to accomplish this goal.
As Silvi Lawrence noted, the Council needed some persuading, but not as much as we might have thought. Ragland stressed that the approach was what got the Council on board with his plan, and enthusiastically so. They were more receptive when they realized that students “weren’t trying to get on the Borough Council by force; we were willing to work with them,” he explained. Once the “us against them” feeling was dispelled, UPUA and the Council worked together quickly to draft, and now pass, this proposal that both sides came to consider “essential.” The main concerns were of the legality of creating such a position; both sides wanted to see it through. Ragland attended the last Borough Council meeting last Monday, and cleared up any further questions on the subject, readying the proposal for its successful final vote tonight.
For now, Ragland will fill the new seat. He intends to recommend UPUA Vice President Colleen Smith for the position. A more formal way of choosing the representative will be instituted next semester, when UPUA has time to better educate students about the position and publicize it more effectively.