With two students running against each other to represent the 4th Ward in the Ithaca Common Council this past fall, city officials believe that students are becoming more interested in increasing their involvement in city politics. City officials are currently seeking students who are willing to serve on various advisory boards for the community.
“I’m looking at this as an opportunity for me to take advantage of because the visibility of city politics has increased because of the recent 4th Ward race between [Peter Mack ’03 and Jamison Moore ’04]. While students are thinking about city government, it is an opportunity for me to let them know that there are other opportunities other than running for office,” said Ithaca Mayor Alan Cohen ’81.
“I would very much like to see more students get involved,” said Cohen. “I think that students have a lot to offer in every aspect of city government, and I’ll wait to see what kind of interest that students may have.”
Mayor Cohen explained why he believes it would be valuable for students to become more involved with the city of Ithaca.
“One of the advantages I see is that many of the people who serve on our boards have been there for many years, and it is always good to get new perspectives. One of the particular benefits of dealing with the student body is that often times you are dealing with people who didn’t grow up in Ithaca and have different experiences they can bring to the table,” he said.
The city advisory boards deal with all different areas, from environmental conservation to public transportation to housing issues. Students would work along with Ithaca residents in making decisions and implementing programs that affect the community.
While he said he believes that students would be qualified to serve on any type of committee that interests them, Cohen said, “There is one board that I would particularly like to see students on, and that’s the rental housing advisory board. I know that there are a lot of rental housing issues for students and it would be good if we had a student perspective on that board.”
In the Office
While a number of high school students are involved with various boards, there are no college students currently working with committees, according to Cohen. The city hopes to recruit older students, including Cornellians who are planning on attending graduate school at the University.
“Most boards meet once a month and that’s it, and some boards meet once a month and also have sub-committees,” said Cohen about the time commitment expected of students.
“The shortest term we have typically is two years, some are three and some are four,” he said.
While students could make at least a two-year commitment, they would have the exact same responsibilities as other committee members, according to Cohen.
Few restrictions are placed on people who wish to become involved; a few committees have residency or voter registration requirements.
Interested students should submit a nomination form to the mayor’s office, and the Common Council would vote for their approval. To find out more information or to express interest, Mayor Cohen urges students to contact his office or visit the city’s Website.
Archived article by Mackenzie Damon