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UMD Student Association Pays $50
The Better Neighbors program at UMD is so concerned about community relations they are offering $50 to each student who pitches in to help. The program, led by LSBE junior Tom DeMinico, is currently recruiting off-campus student renters to become representatives.
Representatives collect names, addresses and phone numbers from students living in their area. Then they distribute information packets and the list of area students to their neighbors in order to open the lines of communication. They hope this simple effort will allow students to empathize better with the residents, and vice versa. It will also encourage the residents to voice problems or concerns to the students.
DeMinico has big plans for the future of the Better Neighbors program.
"We would like to create a good relationship between UMD and our neighboring residents," DeMinico said. "This is important because a few bad apples can ruin it for the whole bunch."
In addition to gathering contact information, DeMinico plans to possibly expand the program by having the representatives to host barbecues, block parties, and neighborhood clean ups. He believes a rental rights and responsibilities forum will help inform student renters about the hazards and pitfalls of living in rental units.
"The responsibilities and rights of renters are very important," said DeMinico. "My goal is to really define what the Better Neighbors representatives will do and are responsible for."
The Better Neighbors program was created by the Student Association five years ago and last year sponsored record numbers of representatives, with over 40 city blocks represented.
Students who would like to support the Better Neighbors program by being a representative should contact Thomas DeMinico in the Student Association office or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Proposed Alcohol Policy Forum
DeMinico also sits on the Alcohol Emergency Committee. That committee started off the 2008 year with a forum to discuss the proposed changes in the school's alcohol policy. Student Association members met with interested students on October 7.
"I thought it went really well," DeMinico said. "There was a good turnout, good feedback, and the students felt free to voice their opinions without having to hold anything back."
The policy under discussion would introduce a "three strikes" rule which would subject any student, on or off campus, to a limit of three alchohol-related infractions. A medical amnesty clause, which would protect students who call 911 in an alcohol-related emergency from receiving a strike or further punishment, is also part of the proposed change.
The forum started with a brief overview of the current policy and the proposed changes by the event's facilitators, Anna Lundberg and DeMinico. The students were split up into groups for questions and discussion topics. The goal of the forum was simply to get an idea of what the student body really wanted.
"We were getting mixed reviews," DeMinico said. "Some people seemed to agree with the changes and some believed that whatever they do off campus is their own business."
Written by Jordan Hanson
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