Faithful readers, Marcus Afzali and SF think I missed something the first time through, when I said that on-campus students have no reason to vote. By protecting a right the on-campus students will not exercise, the City is giving about three times as much power to a few homeowners in Berwyn and Lakeland as to the mass of voters in North College Park.
I don't think I missed anything. I was careful to specify the treatment of *on-campus* students as the source of the problem. Off-campus students have good reason to vote, and sometimes they do. I know of two off-campus grad students who have served on the City Council.
Marcus Afzali thinks that students are affected by City regulations. Not if they live on-campus, Marcus. A students plays a stereo too loud? Campus police handle it, not the city noise officer. Dorm room doesn't meet health and safety standards? City code enforcement can't help you. Pothole opening up under your on-campus parking space? Don't look to College Park Public Works. The City doesn't pick up trash on campus, it doesn't plow the snow off campus streets. On-campus students don't play pickup soccer in the City parks... Need I continue? UMCP is responsible for all public services on campus other than fire and ambulance, which are county, not city.
SF tells of a student voter registration campaign to oppose a housing ordinance in Salisbury. I'm familiar with the Salisbury situation; those are OFF-campus students you're talking about, SF. They ought to vote, because the city ordinances affect them. This is not true for ON-campus students, either here or there. City ordinances will never affect on-campus students.
SF also wants to know how I would solve the problem. That's too big a question to answer in a short blog post. It will require change in both the city charter and the terms of College Park's settlement with the plaintiffs long ago. The first step is to recognize a serious injustice.
Mark Shroder is president of NCPCA and former City Councilman for District 1.