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Application for student liaison to city council open until April 12

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Posted on: April 11, 2024

By JONATHAN IACOVACCI

University of Maryland (UMD) students who want to represent the college as liaisons to the College Park City Council have until April 12 to submit their applications to the Student Government Association.

The student liaison and deputy liaison serve one-year terms that turn over every June. These representatives may not vote on city business, but they participate in weekly council meetings. They also conduct research for council discussions and find experts on various issues to speak to the council.

“The ideal candidate would attend the meetings, work with [city council] in a collaborative fashion and who has a genuine concern about College Park on both sides of Route 1,” Mayor Fazlul Kabir said.

The city welcomed its first student liaison in 2002 as “a much-needed student viewpoint in matters before the city council,” according to the application for the position.

The liaison, who earns a $3,600 stipend for the term, and the deputy, who gets $3,000, offer the student perspective on issues like land use, development, city operations, legislative action and neighbor relations, according to the application.

“It is important to bridge the gap as much as we can,” Kabir said. “Anything we do at the city council level that can potentially impact the campus community in any manner … it is important for [students]  to learn that as well and get their input on those issues.”

Terms will end in June for this year’s liaisons, Dhruvak Marani, a sophomore computer science and government and politics major, and deputy liaison Gannon Sprinkle, a junior government and politics major.

Marani said the biggest issue the pair worked on this year was a pilot program that would offer lower-income students $1,500 toward their rent for apartments in the high-rises along Route 1. 

“We’ve really been on the front lines of this program,” Mirani said, “from conducting background research to helping develop frameworks and writing a report for it. It was myself and Councilmember Stuart Adams [District 3] who actually presented our initial proposal back to the council.”

This year’s liaisons also worked on behalf of the city outside of council meetings, registering students to vote at the UMD Farmers Market; organizing a campus forum for candidates for mayor and city council; and starting a tenants union for students who live in College Park.

Marani said he would like the city council to give voting status to the student liaisons.

“Our city ought to be responsive to student interests, but sometimes it’s really hard to believe that, see[ing] it play out in reality,” Marani said. “It’s really tough sometimes to be as effective when ultimately our ability to get things done is dependent on the willingness of other people to listen to us.” 

Still, Marani said, his experience this year has been educational.

The position “taught me how to work effectively with a governing body, how to be an effective advocate for students,” Marani said. “I don’t think you can really learn how to do that without getting the hands-on experience.”

His work this year helped him land his next high-level student job. In March, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore appointed him to serve as one of two student regents on the 21-member Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland for the next school year.

Marani said the best applicants to fill the city council liaison positions will have strong interpersonal skills, a desire to learn and a willingness to be proactive.

Kabir added that the liaisons must care about College Park residents, including students and non-students.

Applicants for the position will be interviewed by a panel of city and SGA officials. The SGA then will take a vote and appoint the two top candidates as liaison and deputy liaison.

The application is here: tinyurl.com/j7caktfk.

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