USG: Student senators hit the city streets

The Undergraduate Student Government may be known for their dedication to the students of the University, but that is not the only community they pledge their services and cooperation to.

USG also focuses much of their energy and attention throughout the year on working with city officials and organizations in order to better both the campus and the city of Bowling Green.

Sean Martin, head of the City, State and National Liaison branch of the USG, works to improve the Bowling Green community by attending city council meetings and getting to know city officials.

“I plan on bringing up problems that USG sees within the city of Bowling Green at general meetings,” Martin said. “If we want to enact new laws, we must be able to meet with our city council officials and get to know them on a first name basis.”

One of the first issues that Martin will be working on this year is the concern over the railroad tracks that crisscross campus after two deaths occurred on them this summer.

Martin hopes that city officials will stand by USG in their quest to ensure the safety of the students when crossing the train tracks. He said the issue will not only deal with the city, but the railroad companies as well.

“I will act as the mediator between USG and the railroad company,” he said. “Our plans are certainly not definite yet, but we hope to be able to solve this problem after talking to city officials and the railroad corporation.”

Along with solving the dilemma over the railroad tracks, USG also plans on working with the city in order to improve off-campus students’ knowledge of different landlords located around the Bowling Green area.

USG President Johnnie Lewis plans on creating a program with the help of the city that will rank different landlords according to the experience of the tenants. He hopes to eventually have the list made available online.

“Landlords should be made to have certain requirements,” Lewis said. “Right now, there are no set standards across town for landlords and the upkeep of the rentals they are leasing to the students and that has to change.”

One of the requirements that Lewis plans to focus on is electricity.

“Some apartments and houses still use fuses as a current for electricity which are outdated and unsafe,” he said. “I would like to see circuit breakers, which are safer, more standard across the board.”

Though it may take months or even years before USG sees any progress regarding their plans, their previous projects have been successful even if improvement was slow-moving.

Last spring, the crosswalk across from the intramural fields on Mercer Road was improved due to the efforts of USG and city officials.

Tom Bethany, the former head of City, State and National Liaison, decided that something needed to be done after hearing numerous reports from students who claimed they had almost been hit crossing the street.

“At the general city meetings, I always bugged officials about the crosswalk,” Bethany said. “I sent e-mails as well, and after about a year we finally had things running.”

Work on the crosswalk began after the frozen winter ground thawed at the start of spring. Crosswalk signs, solar-powered blinking signals and more clearly defined lines in the road were added.

“I think the improvements give self-confidence to pedestrians,” Bethany said. “At night the crosswalk lights are always blinking and help people cross the street safely without fear of injury as they can now be seen by the drivers.”

But Bethany insists that the crosswalk would never have been finished without the collaboration between the city and USG.

“City officials were willing to work with us and were extremely cooperative,” he said. “It took awhile to get done, but these things do take time and people must realize that they have to be patient in order to see change.”

“As long as city officials and USG keep focused,” Bethany said, “improvements and renovations within the city and the campus will inevitably get done.”