Students should consider city governmentBy Alyssa Bloechl • May 10, 2012 • Category: Opinions
Are you someone who is constantly wondering why we don’t have more things to do in Platteville, such as kayaking, small concerts or the leisure of a 24-hour coffee shop? Are there things that you would like to see change, such as more sit-down restaurants or produce markets in town?
As a student, I hear these complaints while walking through campus, in the grocery store and in a substantial amount of conversations I either am participating in or eavesdropping in on. I had known students wanted more out of the university, but I didn’t realize we are also expecting a lot from the city of Platteville. Not until Platteville City Manager Larry Bierke was a guest speaker in my state and local government class did I fully understand that the university and the city have to work together to make a lot of what we want happen.
In his presentation Bierke informed my class that the students at University of Wisconsin-Platteville are about half of the population of Platteville.
“We are trying to implement more student voices and opinions in decisions,” Bierke said. “Students should have more of a voice because of their overwhelming presence.”
We are here for a majority of the year and the city would be very different without us. Why can’t we make it different while we are here?
Believe it or not, the Platteville Common Council used to have students carrying a district for years with a yearly roll over. Several years ago it seemed students stopped being interested in city government engagement.
As of now, and not necessarily with student input, the city of Platteville is in the process of welcoming both a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Jimmy John’s. Who’s excited? The Platteville Police Department now has a prescription drug drop box to deposit old medications in. Also the PPD is implementing a free text notification service that can be found on the city’s website.
In a one-on-one interview with Bierke, I learned that if students want to see more changes happen in the city in their favor, a student Common Council member would hold a lot of weight based on the council’s status and power base.
There are multiple city boards and committees with over 20 vacant positions that students are welcome to apply for. For example, the Historic Preservation Commission needs to fill a spot. Bierke said that the presence of an engineering student could greatly benefit the commission because of their knowledge base on maintaining and developing historical buildings.
The Safe Routes To School Program is also in need of some help in encouraging alternate transportation routes and options that focuses away from automobiles but towards bikes, footpaths and the like.
There is an entire list of the different boards as well as an application to be part of them on the city of Platteville website, platteville.org, on the Boards and Commissions link. Even if there are no vacancies for a board or commission you are interested in, it doesn’t mean the city isn’t taking applications.
How is this going to benefit an aspiring college student? Well, there is huge potential for résumé building, volunteer hours with a municipality, internships and the application of things learned in class. Working with the city of Platteville holds many opportunities for students studying a wide range of topics or for anyone with specific interests.
Change is wanted and needed. The city needs student voices contributing to decisions. Students should seriously consider getting involved with Platteville city.