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Members discuss a possible taxi flat rate

Joseph McMahon | Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Council of Representatives (COR) met Tuesday to discuss a plan to make taxi services in South Bend cheaper and more reliable for students.

Sophomore Gustavo Gari, the Keenan senator and chairman of the Campus Life Council’s taskforce on community relations, presented to the Council the basic ideas of a proposal that will be given to Vice President of Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman at the beginning of April.

The proposal will outline suggestions, including the possibility of a flat rate for students.

“We’d like something where we can involve cab companies and different parts of the administration to get something where students get charged a flat rate,” Gari said.

Many COR members voiced concerns that cab companies charge students more than other South Bend residents. Gari said the implementation of a flat rate would help fix this problem.

“It’s a legitimate concern and one of the major reasons we’re exploring a flat rate,” he said.

The taskforce, Gari said, is currently doing extensive research on the issue by talking to various groups in the Notre Dame administration, including Poorman, Notre Dame Security/Police and Card Services. The task force has also contacted other universities, including the University of Virginia, Duke and Vanderbilt, to learn about the programs they currently have in place.

“The list of schools we’re researching for this report has a range of city sizes,” student body president Liz Brown said.

Gari said Virginia’s system was especially interesting because it allows students to swipe their student ID inside the cab and charge the fare to their university account.

In other COR news:

– The Council also discussed the possibility of making the Student Business Board general manager a voting member.

The proposal, which was put forth by Student Union Board treasurer Kedeja Gaines, would require a change to the Student Body Constitution. Though there wasn’t an official vote, Brown conducted an informal “straw poll,” where the majority of the members polled said they would not support the proposal.

The Student Business Board is comprised of two student-owned businesses – Irish Gardens and Adworks. According to the group’s Web site, “it is the responsibility of the Student Business Board to provide students with practical experience in a business environment and offer convenient services to the Notre Dame community. The minimum goal of the Student Business Board is to break-even after all debts are paid.”

Gaines said she “feels strongly that the Student Business Board manager should be added” to the voting list. But for various reasons, many COR members disagreed with her.

Chief executive assistant Sheena Plamoottil said she wasn’t sure any of the issues discussed in COR would apply to the Student Business Board manager.

“I don’t really see the value of him being in COR,” she said.

Junior class president Robert Reish suggested that perhaps the Student Business Board manager should be added as a nonvoting member, but Brown said she did not see the purpose in that move.

– Brown also announced student government will be hosting a town-hall meeting on the University’s policy of hiring Catholic professors. The meeting most likely will be held in Washington Hall in late February.

There will be a debate followed by a question-and-answer session exploring whether the University should set a quota for the number of Catholic faculty members. In addition to members of the student body, some Notre Dame faculty and administrators will attend.

Attendance will be mandatory for all student government members.

– COR received a brief update on the student government elections from Judicial Council president Ashley Weiss.

Weiss said there would be no changes to the schedule of the “Vote Like a Champion” events and that the primary election will still be held Feb. 11 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.