Dozens of students chanted, “vote yes on 6” and waved signs, as local media looked on during a rally sponsored by the Student Senate and the USM Alumni Association.
The turnout at Thursday’s rally was relatively small, but the message was very clear – “vote yes on 6.” Question 6 on the ballot is the Maine Higher Education Bond. If passed, USM would receive $8 million dollars.
University officials said the money would help fund a new community education center and a 1,200-space parking garage on the Portland campus. The proposed center includes a 400-500-seat lecture hall, 15,000 square feet of classroom and meeting space.
Most speakers focused on the advantage a parking garage would bring to the University.
Freshman theater major Braden Chapman talked about an inconvenience he had with the parking situation.
“My passenger had to crawl out of my window because parking was so tight.”
Others shared similar experiences.
“Parking has been a horrible problem for years,” said Justin LaBerge, treasurer of the Student Senate.
USM President Richard Pattenaude said there is increasing pressure for the University to alleviate parking problems because of rapid growth.
He said there is a growing gap between the community and the capacity to deliver programs to USM.
“The community education facility will help to interact with the community,” LaBerge said.
“For a university of this size, that delivers this number of programs, it is absurd that we have little if anything in the way of dedicated meeting space,” said Bob Caswell, executive director of Media and Community Relations.
Marcy Muller, chair of the Student Senate, said the rally was intended to promote student involvement in Tuesday’s election.
“It was trying to gain support, and letting people know exactly what the bond is.”
Gorham students can ride to the polls in a van will leave every hour from the front of Bailey Hall. The van will run from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Staff Writer Missy Remillard can be contacted at: [email protected]