Two University of Maryland student leaders on Feb. 27 proposed establishing a tenants union for students who rent in College Park.

At a meeting on campus, Dhruvak Mirani, one of the university’s two liaisons to the College Park City Council, said the goals of the union are to lower the cost of rent, help improve living conditions and address maintenance issues.

“We can’t really address housing prices in a vacuum without talking about all of the other issues that go along with it,” Mirani, a sophomore government and politics and computer science dual major, said. “This is one way that we think we can kind of tackle both at the same time.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median monthly rent in College Park between 2018 and 2022 was $1,838.

Mirani said he and Gannon Sprinkle, the university’s deputy liaison to the city council, have spoken to many students who support the idea of a tenants union.

“It’s important that we take advantage of the collective power that we have as students,” Mirani said. “There’s 30,000 of us as undergraduates, another 10,000 graduate students. That’s 40,000 students all facing, or most facing, a really common central problem.”

Sprinkle, a sophomore government and politics major who co-presented the plan to a small crowd at the meeting, said of the students the two have talked to, all agreed the College Park area lacks sufficient affordable housing.

“We need something to rally behind, a force to fight for better living conditions and lower rent prices,” Sprinkle said. “That’s what we’re here to do.”

Mirani described the creation of the union as a soft launch.

Mirani and Sprinkle have not officially formed an organization, but Mirani said they have spent time meeting with similar groups in the area, such as Stomp Out Slumlords, a tenants union in Washington, about how to proceed.

“The advice we’ve been getting is, ‘Go for it and just start,’” he said.

Some students at the meeting expressed their support for the idea.

William Edwards, a senior studio art major, said he has been looking for an organization like the tenants union for a long time.

“I’m sort of on my last semester here, so I don’t know how useful it will be to me, but I’m glad to help out and help other people who will be staying for longer,” Edwards said.

The pair invited the students at the meeting to join them in early March to canvas students living at the Terrapin Row apartments to hear their concerns about housing in College Park. The group’s next meeting is on March 26 on campus.