It was early fall and Andy Plewinski was walking to his class in Science Hall. As he crossed the Hughes-Jefferson intersection, he noticed a large group of students crossing as well. He also saw that cars were intersecting with students, trying to get by. Recognizing the safety risks, Plewinski decided that something should be done.
As a sophomore Senator in the Undergraduate Student Association, Plewinski has been working on making Senate more of a legislative body. His idea of adding a crosswalk to this intersection is only one of the several ways that he is working on making Senate more of a “legislating, bill writing body” that will be proactive about representing the students of Canisius.
True to this, Plewinski has been working on several different projects that he hopes will benefit the students, the first of which is working to create a school zone around Canisius.
After a talk with Public Safety Director Gary Everett, Plewinski realized that making this school zone would help to improve the safety of the area around the college. This would include increased signage around the area as well as additional crosswalks and signage in these crosswalks.
“Obviously you can’t take the bad driver out of the driver; however, you can make people more aware,” Plewinski said. “So that was the plan to keep drivers vigilant of our students, and it’s not just our students, it’s community members, it’s kids walking to school—Public School 74—and the Hamlin Park School. And there’s a lot of people out on the streets. Safety should be everyone’s priority,”
After this talk, Plewinski put together a plan and presentation that he presented to Senate, Dr. Ellen Conley, Vice President for Student Affairs, and finally to Vice President for Business and Finance, Pat Richey, who has some experience with local government.
While Richey was “cautiously optimistic,” there are still some people who argue that these signs will take away from the college by making it look more like a high school.
Plewinski, however, disagrees. “We’re an urban campus. You have to draw the line somewhere,” he said.
Right now, Plewinski has resolutions drafted that would exempt Canisius from the two requirements it didn’t meet, and is simply waiting on further contact with Richey. If he doesn’t hear anything, he plans on moving forward by contacting the Department of Transportation for the State, and working on the necessary legislation.
Perhaps the biggest issue that Plewinski is facing is clubs having to book their trips through the Travel Team. Currently, student clubs have to pay the Travel Team to book any club trips for them. A group headed by Dennis Misko, the Director of Special Gifts at Canisius, made this decision.
“That was unfortunately and unfairly thrown upon student clubs,” Plewinski said, “What’s most concerning to me about that is that they never came to the students. They never once came to the student government, they never once came to any representatives, and said ‘This is what we’re planning on doing,’ … We never heard anything about it, and then all of the sudden it was on us.”
This decision puts a monetary burden on the student clubs that adds up over time. A club that goes on a trip with 20 or more students has to pay $25 per reservation on top of the usual, nominal fee.
“Student club budgets, as they are, are already coming down, and we just raised the student tax to cover the metro passes, and costs are starting to add up,” Plewinski said, “That’s the main concern with that, and I would really like – welcome – a meeting with Mr. Misko.”
As requested by Dr. Terri Mangione, Dean of Students, Plewinski wrote a letter of concern. The Senate has also passed a resolution that was designed to counteract this policy. This legislation was then passed along to Dr. Mangione.
“I have discussed the resolution with those currently reviewing the travel team and College travel policies. These discussions continue. At this time, the policy has not been changed,” said Mangione.
Plewinski isn’t planning on dropping the issue, though; he believes that the Senate should serve students, and this extra fee is an unnecessary burden.
“We have to realize that, as student leaders, we are accountable to students only,” Plewinski said.
Learn more about your student government at http://blogs.canisius.edu/usa/