The University Senate is the latest body to raise concerns about the lack of public input in the East Campus Redevelopment Initiative. In response to his concern that there “wasn’t enough consciousness on the campus” about the potential impact of the East Campus project, University Senate Chair James Gates asked University Vice President John Porcari to give a presentation to the group last week, the Diamondback reported last Thursday.
University administrators have assured us that the design would be subject to a full and comprehensive public input process both on campus, in the community, and in the region — once a development partner has been selected. However, we think much can be done now to raise the public awareness about the project and involve student input. Students should serve on the decision-making subcommittee and evaluation committees, not just the seemingly powerless “steering” committee.
The university could place a prominent link on the UMD.edu homepage to more information about the project, and begin to improve the East Campus website to serve to educate not just developers but members of the general public. As it is currently designed much of the text of this page appears as an image — meaning it will not appear highly in web searches. Lastly, perhaps the best way to prepare the ground for both public input and the public approval process is to install signs on the actual site itself. We are confident raising awareness now will improve the quality of public input and could speed approval for the project.
The photo is taken from the Facilities Master Plan Aesthetic Guidelines