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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Student concern, involvement spikes after housing ordinance proposal

A housing ordinance proposal that would allow only two unrelated persons to live in one residence was made in November by City Councilman and Texas A&M’s Distinguished Professor John Crompton. The motion did not receive a second, after which non-student residents became more vocal in support of such a proposal.
College Station city council will hold a workshop to reveal the report of consultants hired to evaluate the concerns of city residents Thursday at the Barbara Bush Conference center.
To address these concerns, the city of College Station hired a consultant to meet with stakeholders – students, landlords and residents – to evaluate all sides of the matter. The findings of the stakeholder meetings will be announced at Thursday’s workshop and will decide whether the city council will pursue the ordinance into writing.
The Bryan-College Station Eagle published a letter Tuesday from a College Station resident who expressed her concerns about maintaining neighborhood integrity with regards to the student population. She said students had started a petition against the city council and invited residents to the workshop to stand opposed to the students initiatives.
In response, Student Body President Conner Prochaska said the residents in support of an ordinance have good reason to be, but that city codes are already in place to meet these concerns.
“Stabilized property values, multiple vehicles parked up and down the street, getting a decent nights sleep, beer bottles; these are obviously all problems. The reality is that the solution doesn’t lie in an ordinance, but in existing codes we already have but are not being enforced,” Prochaska said.
“The bottom line is: unrelated ordinances don’t solve problems,” Prochaska said. “Citizens can write letters and encourage people to let their voice be heard at a workshop session that isn’t even a public hearing, or they can follow the example of the students who have come up with alternative plans, rational solutions and all-inclusive strategies for preserving neighborhood integrity.”
Wayne Larson, the director of public communications for the city of College Station, said he had not seen the resident’s letter and that he had no idea as to where she may have obtained her false information.
Kate Putman, member of the Legislative Relations committee within Student Government, has been active in the BTHO Housing Ordinance campaign that encourages voter registration and participation in the upcoming city elections in order to elect pro-student city council members. The campaign does not include a petition.
“Housing limitations have been proposed in a number of cities across the country and it is now affecting this great University,” said Putman, who cited other cities and how the student body at each university has used similar means to combat the ordinance.
“We are 46,000 students strong and together, we are a force.”
Putman said the need for more attention to be brought to this issue on behalf of students and residents alike by increasing public discussion of the possibility of an ordinance being written.
“There is no reason for the students to be uneducated on an issue that affects every Aggie’s rights,” Putman said.
Not only are students distressed with the lack of information accessible to the entire student body, but also with the misinformation that is seemingly directed at students to decrease what awareness already exists on campus.
Tyler Koch, speaker of the Student Senate, expressed his concerns in the roles that some professors are taking within the upcoming municipal election and how their influence has affected the students understanding of the two-unrelated persons housing ordinance.
“During his state and local finance class yesterday, Gary Halter, who is a former mayor and coincidentally the treasurer for John Crompton’s campaign, told his class that the votes cast at the polling place in the MSC for students’ use would be invalid, and the official polling place would remain at the mall,” Koch said.
A student present in Halter’s class said that he informed the students that the polls at the MSC closed and that they could only vote in the basement of the Post Oak Mall. The student wished to remain anonymous for risk of repercussion.
“After hearing constant reports of criticism of student efforts regarding city involvement from Dr. Halter, it is apparent that his statements about the polling place are merely a false discouragement geared toward countering student efforts,” Koch said.
Koch further commented on the reports that faculty within Crompton’s department have utilized department and course listservs to endorse his efforts. “Classrooms should not be transposed into political stages,” he said.
“Professors can take any position or hold whatever political view that they feel inclined to, outside of the University,” Koch said. “Students don’t pay tuition to hear what professors think the right political moves in an upcoming city election are, and it is unethical to exploit them into a classroom.”
“I encourage the administration to keep political pressure from professors outside of the University,” said Koch. “Free speech is a lot different than manipulating a position of authority as a professor into a political stage.”

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