Recently, Off-Campus andCommuter Association (OCCA). OCCA sold Phillies tickets at a discounted rate for WCU students. As an organization, OCCA fulfills a broad mission for their students: lobbying the administration to address their needs and concerns, investigate issues that confront them, recommend solutions, promote understanding between them and the rest of the community and to lobby for or provide services and programs. The Phillies’ tickets come from this last point; however, the organization has an ongoing leadership campaign, and is also currently working on a letter-writing campaign.
The letter-writing campaign is currently one of OCCA’s primary advocacy efforts. In an open letter to state legislators, students are given the opportunity to appeal for extra funding for several of West Chester’s public works projects, such as the repaving of Church St. By writing to state legislators, OCCA hopes to raise funding while lessening tensions between the borough and the students that live there.
The campaign was precipitated by a number of factors, including the recent 20% increase in property taxes and state-wide budget cuts.
Paul Tamke, OCCA’s Vice President, wrote the following about why students should participate in this campaign: “As a student, I . do not pay taxes [in West Chester]. The fact that all university property is tax exempt compounds this issue, and while there are many valid reasons for such exemptions, I do not think it is fair that the borough should have to eat the cost of providing resources for over 13,000 students, faculty, and staff.”
Renae Donald, OCCA’s Treasurer, backs up the organization’s goal with statistics: “West Chester does an estimated $20 million in alcohol sales in a given year at 40 different licensed locations. This statistic.is enormous, especially when one takes into account that the ratio of police to citizens is 2.56 per 1000, lower than the national average . Because of current tax laws in Pennsylvania, the borough pays out of pocket for this enforcement and receives nothing in the way of taxes to support the great demand for policing in the borough.”
Donald said, “The 18% tax on alcohol.goes to the state and makes the state $3.6 million dollars per year: and again, the Borough of West Chester receives no immediate benefit but has to assume the burden of enforcement and public safety that accompanies having the highest concentration of liquor licenses in Pennsylvania.”
Hans van Mol, OCCA’s President, explains that OCCA’s efforts can only help strengthen relations between WCU and the surrounding community.
“With over 60 percent of the campus body living in the Borough and nearby areas, OCCA is always trying to be the bridge that joins the University and public together,” Mol said. “Our constituents interact with permanent residents on a daily basis, and we strive not only to increase friendly neighbor relations, but to also to give our students a voice on campus & in the community.”
OCCA is open to feedback and will try to offer help in any way that they can. OCCA has worked well with other groups and organizations. If you contact OCCA to help or feedback you can locate them at occawcu.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their general meetings are at Wednesday at noon in Sykes room 209, and are always open to all.
Dan Colon is a fourth-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at DC741117@wcupa.edu.