The Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) Senate will vote on Monday on whether or not to turn Bike Share into an official student service.Bike Share, which currently repairs and rents out bikes for up to 12 hours per week, will receive a larger budget directly from ASOC, be open more hours and expand its repair services if the vote passes. Bike Share leaders hope the organization can move to the Bengal Room to accommodate these changes.
The members of Bike Share sent an official proposal to become a student service to ASOC last month, describing its role on campus and outlining three possible budget scenarios in which the group would increase its hours, repair services and number of bikes, so it can service more students. Bike Share manager and geology major Robin Bruns (junior) would like to see it open five days per week with mechanics always present, a level of operation that is not possible with its current funding.
“Student services have campus-wide recognition and are incorporated into orientation material and regular school notifications,” the members of Bike Share wrote in their report to ASOC. “Gaining recognition as a student service will allow Bike Share to involve more students and garner more interest in biking in L.A. Bike Share would also expect support from [Office of Student Life] staff and ASOC.”
In an election at the end of last semester, Occidental students demonstrated overwhelming support for making Bike Share a student service, according to ASOC Vice President of Internal Affairs and politics major John O’Neill (senior) in a Dec. 3 article by The Occidental Weekly.
If the vote passes, Bike Share would become a student service at the beginning of the fall 2014 semester and have its budget set when the senate creates next year’s ASOC budget at the end of the current semester. Currently, Bike Share applies for funding through the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fund (RESF) on an as-needed basis and often waits weeks to have a budget approved. If it is upgraded to a full student service, Bike Share hopes to open at the start of the semester and immediately implement the plans it outlined in its proposal to ASOC.
The New Student Services Committee, comprised of the ASOC Governing Committee and two Honor Board jurors, voted unanimously on March 20 to bring Bike Share’s proposal before the whole senate. In the upcoming vote, two-thirds of the senate’s 13 votes are required to make Bike Share a student service, following a new procedure written by O’Neill and approved with minor changes by the senate.
O’Neill, who has taken advantage of Bike Share’s repair services himself,hopes that ASOC will turn Bike Share into a student service in order to make getting off campus and exploring Los Angeles more realistic for Occidental students. According to O’Neill, the work that Bike Share does complements the values of the Occidental community.
“It just fits in with so many things that we support: sustainability, getting students off campus, living a healthy lifestyle,” O’Neill said.
Moving to a more central location on campus is a priority for Bike Share, according to Bruns. It has an ongoing petition with over 200 signatures to demonstrate student interest in relocating the Bike Cage to the Bengal Room in Johnson Student Center. Currently, Bike Share’s headquarters are tucked into a corner of the Berkus Hall garage. In a survey sent out by Bike Share on Feb. 4, students suggested that they would be more likely to utilize its services if it was in a more convenient location. Numerous students offered suggestions for new locations, including the Bengal Room.
Bruns envisions transforming the Bengal Room into a gateway to L.A. for students who want to explore the city using public transportation and services offered by Occidental, such as Bike Share and the Bengal Bus. An employee would oversee bike rentals and also answer questions about navigating L.A.
“We’d love to keep the hangout atmosphere of having just an open space, open couches; anything can happen there,” Bruns said. “But we really want to inspire people to get off campus and explore L.A. It would be cool to have some kind of interactive map showing where people have gone, what they recommend.”
Members of ASOC are currently considering potential options for the Bengal Room renovation and will include Bike Share in their discussion, according Sophomore ASOC Senator and Diplomacy and World Affairs major Chris Weeks (sophomore).
“Seeing as Bike Share has done substantial work to collect hundreds of student signatures, I feel that it is our duty as student representatives to be open to the idea of incorporating Bike Share into the space,” Weeks said in an email. “I think it needs to be part of a larger conversation, and I hope as a Senate we invite Bike Share in to have a conversation about their ideas.”
UPDATE: The ASOC bike share vote passed 11-0 in favor of bike share becoming a student service.