The Associated Student Body Senate voted Tuesday evening to support the creation of a transportation hub on the Square.
Through a unanimous vote, the ASB Senate passed SR 21-11, which reads, “Therefore, be it enacted that the Associated Student Body Senate support the creation of the transportation hub on the square for the safety and the efficiency benefits for the student body and Lafayette County.”
Chair of External Affairs Bennett Matson, the committee of external affairs, and Senator Jonathan Amlong, chair of infrastructure, co-authored the bill.
“It’s just that there’s a need for it. I’ve been here for four years and I’ve seen so many bad instances of, like, people almost getting hit by cars,” Matson said. “I’ve seen so many problems, whether it’s lighting, whether it’s safety or DUI’s increasing so quickly — there’s a definite need for it. Now that I have a position, now that I have the right people I can talk to, there’s no point in not trying to fix it now, for the future.”
During the summer months, Oxford’s Board of Alderman considered a nearly identical initiative, but it failed to result in any action, largely due to resistance from local taxi drivers and companies.
“The goal of City leaders is to get as many students home as safely as possible. Hearing concerns from students and the Oxford Police Department led us to propose two transportation hubs in the downtown area to allow a safe area for taxis, Ubers and other technology based transportation companies and designated drivers to be able to gather and provide a well-lit, safe, convenient area to find a safe ride home,” Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said. “Unfortunately, these discussions took place when the majority of the student body was home for the summer. Concerns were voiced by taxi companies and parents who were concerned their students wouldn’t walk to the transportation hub but would instead choose to drive. I’m not sure we as a Board did a good job conveying the positives of this option.”
Tannehill introduced the initiative to Matson in August. Since then, he has been working closely with city officials, taxi drivers and companies, and members of the university community to breathe new life into the initiative.
“I am so glad that our student body is using their voice to help us serve our student population in ways they believe to be helpful,” she said. “ASB bringing this topic back to the forefront is important. Our Board looks forward to hearing from these student leaders and revisiting this issue.”
Because the ASB senate represents the student body, this resolution signifies to city officials that a transportation hub on the Square is something that students both want and need.
As detailed in the resolution, a transportation hub would serve to “avoid an overcrowded and inefficient system of traveling” and “provide a safe and lighted location for all Rideshare options to be used.”
Throughout the portion of the senate meeting devoted to the consideration of this resolution, senators with similar experiences and concerns echoed their support for this resolution.
“This makes it so much safer. I think it’s the right decision for our constituents, for our friends, for our families that come on game days. For the families of Oxford and the people of Oxford,” said Senator Lila Osman. “I hope this does incentivize people to get an Uber — I really think that it will, especially since we’re doing this with Safe Ride. I really think that we should pass this.…”
According to Matson, the Board of Alderman could consider the initiative again as early as their first meeting in November. If the initiative is adopted, the changes may be in place by the time students return for the spring 2022 semester.
The senate passed two other pieces of legislation regarding Title II and Title IV revisions. The next formal senate meeting will be in two weeks’ time, on Oct. 19.