The Daily Gamecock

SG promises major action

This year promises to be one of action rather than dead assurances at USC, said Student Government representatives. This year, SG anticipates the implementation of several new student service programs that have been under way for the past year, including, as Student Body

President Ebbie Yazdani announced in November, a free student taxi service and the long-awaited acceptance of Carolina Cash off campus.

"It's been a long, crazy year," Student Body Vice President and third-year history student Taylor Cain said. "Our biggest hope is that students will be able to really see and benefit from all our hard work."

The most imminent of the proposed student service programs is the taxi service set to replace Cocky's Caravan, the city-run shuttle service that transports students from campus to Five Points on Friday and Saturday nights within the spring semester.

SG Chairwoman of Transportation and Safety and second-year public relations student Katie Thompson said the committee is currently weighing offers from two different Columbia companies. Once the decision is announced, which Thompson said should be within the next two weeks, students will be able to use their Carolina Cards for free transportation anywhere within a five-mile radius of campus on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as game days. According to SG, the service will save the University up to $600 per night and will cater to more students. Cocky's Caravan currently costs SG $800 a night and averages only about 20 students per evening.

According to Yazdani, a fourth-year history student, the expanded acceptance of the Carolina Card at off-campus locations has been at the forefront of student requests for over a year and will most likely take effect during the fall of 2011. While an SG committee will commission specific vendors over the summer, they have worked out a compromise with Sodexo, the University's main dining supplier, in which only non-competitive vendors will be included in the expansion, such as gas stations, grocery stores and late-night dining locations. Yazdani said the administration is looking for an increase in Carolina Card deposits before the program takes effect.

SG is also appealing to the state attorney general in order to introduce a free legal counseling service for students in the fall. The prospective attorney(s), appointed by a $2 fee increase, would advise students on non-judicial matters, such as employment and housing contracts.
Graduate students can also expect increased representation in student affairs this year if a new bill is passed during the February SG elections. The bill would alter the constitution to create a bicameral legislature of graduate and undergraduate students in order for graduate students to be more cohesively involved in legislation over issues such as university health care policy and room and board.

Also currently on SG's agenda this year are the promotion of digital textbooks, a state-wide student lobby for a bond bill at the State House in February and opposition to plans to dig a rock quarry less than half a mile from Williams-Brice Stadium, next to Stadium Suites and University Oaks.

As Yazdani and Cain prepare to relinquish their offices in March and move closer to graduation, they hope that this year's new administration will continue to initiate changes that tangibly affect students' lives. They also ask that the student body continue to voice their concerns and actively participate in legislation in order to sustain improvement in the Carolina community.

"In the past, we haven't shown on a consistent level that we're addressing things that affect students. I think this year is definitely different," Yazdani said. "For a lot of initiatives to become successful, they need students to be steadfastly in support of them. And they need officers who understand that making change is a team effort."