February 13, 2009

Student Assembly Introduces Carpool Program, Transfer Housing Survey

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The Student Assembly announced yesterday that the S.A. Appropriations Committee unanimously approved on Tuesday the decision to buy a $4,500 package from Zimride, a nation-wide online carpool and rideshare application service founded by a Cornell alumnus. Zimride is not free to the public, but Cornell will have access to its service after buying the package, which includes its Facebook application.
Although a high number of Cornell students are already using Zimride’s Facebook application, it may not be able to continue its service to students if Cornell does not buy Zimride’s package, according to Ryan Lavin ’09, president of the S.A.. Lavin said that a lot of peer institutions also utilize Zimride’s service. The cost of this online carpool service originally amounts to $9,500, but the S.A. was able to get hold of a discount of $5,000 due to connections with founder John Zimmer ’06.
In addition to the Zimride approval announcement, Andrew Brokman ’11, transfer representative, presented a transfer housing survey for the S.A.’s approval. This prompted a discussion on the issue of how transfer students are inconsistently added to class council list-serves, and therefore do not always receive council emails about class-specific events. Greg Mezey ’09, vice president for finance, said that upon matriculation into Cornell, “[Transfers] are just out there in ‘Cornell-land’. I think it’s important for transfer students to identify with a class.”
The S.A. also discussed possible changes in the timeline of the byline funding process for byline-funded organizations. There are approximately 29 byline funding groups at Cornell, which distributes funding to other groups on campus on an event-to-event basis. Lavin commended byline-funded organizations for their flexibility with the proposed changes. Lavin also mentioned that groups should only apply for more funding to compensate for the reduced availability of University resources. Asa Craig ’11, Arts and Sciences representative, urged byline funding groups to keep rising costs in mind, as an increased Student Activity Fee might be an unwanted added expense for many students.
In addition, Greg Menzenski, a project manager from CIT, presented an update on the Ensemble Project, the recent proposal of a University-wide e-mail server change. The two options presented were Google Apps and Microsoft Exchange. Currently, one of the most pressing issues on campus is the lack of a central calendar application for the Cornell community, according to Menzenski. He discussed the pros and cons of each option and emphasized his desire for greater student input on these possibilities.
The S.A. also discussed the upcoming student elections. As of noon yesterday, 53 student elections packets were signed out.
“We don’t know if it’s a record, but the office says that it’s considered high.” said Mezey.
Lastly, student trustee Mike Walsh grad presented a Cornell Sustainability Initiatives Presentation. He discussed the financial issues associated with Cornell’s carbon footprint. In closing statements, Walsh offered his advice to the S.A.: “As you go through your year, just be aware of the environmental impact your actions might have.”