The RHA Senate voted Tuesday night to back DOTS’ fiscal 2018 budget after members passed an amendment requesting an environmental assessment of a newly proposed parking garage.
The amendment vote was 43-0, with no abstentions. The vote for the overall DOTS budget was 25-17, with one abstention.
The Residence Hall Association added the amendment to account for environmental concerns that may arise in building a garage. While the terms for the assessment aren’t officially outlined yet, Samantha Bingaman, who proposed the amendment, said she would like to know the water and space impact, among other things.
“The [amendment’s] background is rooted in our discussions from last semester,” said Bingaman, a senior environmental science and policy major and RHA’s finance and philanthropy officer. “We should ensure that if there is to be construction of a parking garage that [the] environmental impact and our concern about the environmental impact is taken into account.”
DOTS had proposed a 1,000-space surface lot in a wooded area near Xfinity Center last semester, which the RHA opposed because of environmental concerns. The new parking garage — a four-year project that DOTS Director David Allen said would cost about $317,000 for the first year — could become a 900-space garage if the 2 percent wage raise for employees in the DOTS budget is redistributed within the department.
RHA senator Doron Tadmor said Tuesday’s amendment shows that RHA is “dedicated to sustainability.”
“I think it’s really important to keep DOTS, and any department within [University of Maryland], accountable,” the freshman international business and finance major said.
However, Sasha Galbreath — speaking as a senior rather than as RHA vice president — said the onus remains on students to make sure future transportation initiatives aren’t “just pushing more garages on campus and not really addressing the crux of the problem, which is accessibility to this campus.”
“This garage is … a carbon-emitting bandaid on the issue,” the government and politics major said.
In addition to voting on DOTS’ budget, senate members also reviewed three other resolutions, two of which RHA committees created last week after Resident Life, Resident Facilities, DOTS and Dining Services presented their fiscal 2018 budgets to the senate on Jan. 31.
Members of corresponding RHA committees voted on Resident Life and Resident Facilities’ conjoined budget as well as the Dining Services budget last week, and the senate unanimously approved both Tuesday, each with a vote of 44-0.
There was also a non-budget resolution that the senate approved 44-0 in favor of the Dining Dollar Donation Drive’s beneficiary. The drive is set to occur in all dining halls this coming Monday.
During the drive, dining hall users can choose to donate $1 to a specified cause, and Dining Services matches the total number of dining dollars donated.
The first Dining Dollar drive took place last semester with Campus Pantry serving as the beneficiary. This semester’s beneficiary is the Food Recovery Network, which “unites students on college campuses to fight food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from their campuses and communities and donating it to people in need,” according to its website.
The drive used to collect dining points but was adapted last semester for students on the anytime dining plan. Dining Services has held similar fundraising initiatives since 2007, Bingaman said.