SG committee connects students with mayor’s office

Joe Layton

A new Student Government committee will attempt to bridge the gap between the city and the University by tackling Austin issues that could impact students.

The Mayor’s Student Advisory Council includes five students who applied in the fall and SG President Scott Parks selected. The council held its first meeting Thursday, and it will meet twice a month to address issues pertaining to the UT population.

“I think there has always been a lack of communication between the University and the city,” Parks said. “This is an outlet for students to voice their concerns.”

Parks worked on a similar council two years ago that included student representatives from UT, St. Edwards University and Austin Community College. The SG council will only include student representatives from UT so that it can better address interests that apply specifically to University students.

“I think we’re going to get out of it what we put in. Students are the primary objective,” said John Lawler, a Liberal Arts representative in SG. “The last couple of years, students have been absent from the scene, and this is our chance to make a difference. The things that actually impact students happen on the municipal level.”

The council will work closely with city officials such as Mayor Lee Leffingwell and his spokesman Matt Curtis.

The mayor’s office is eager to bring in experts to collaborate on efforts that directly impact the students, such as Capital Metro, Curtis said.

“Students will drive this effort,” Curtis said. “They know what the population is looking for.”

At the meeting, Annick Beaudet, the city’s bicycle programs manager, updated students on the progress of the Rio Grande Project, which could lead to the installation of new bike lanes and street-side parking spaces in the West Campus area. The student representatives gave their input to Beaudet, who will present the proposal to the University Area Partners neighborhood association on Feb. 2.

In addition to the biking situation, the student representatives suggested topics for future meetings such as parking meters, developments in West Campus, homelessness, railways and buses.