UISG campaigns don’t miss downtown bars

BY TESSA McLEAN | APRIL 13, 2009 7:40 AM

It’s hard to miss the bright orange, electric blue, and white T-shirts permeating every corner of campus during this year’s UI Student Government campaigns.

As the university strives to combat excessive drinking among students, campaigning efforts for this year’s UISG elections have been heavily focused in downtown bars.

Last week, candidates from Go Party and Your Party said they only officially campaigned downtown on the nights of April 9 and 10.

But starting on April 7, supporters wearing parties’ shirts were spotted at various downtown establishments.

Go Party presidential candidate Mike Currie said during late hours of the evening, bars are the only place for parties to solicit voters.

“When I go downtown, I don’t get drunk; I might have a beer or two while I am out campaigning,” he said. “It’s every individual’s choice, and I don’t think [campaigning downtown] sends a bad message. People are adults, and we are supposed to be able to make our own decisions and be responsible for ourselves.”

Go Party’s platform promotes the creation of alternative activities to drinking, including making the IMU a more student-friendly area by adding a bowling alley or more pool tables in the basement. Currie also told the DI he wants a couple of beers on tap at the IMU.

Your Party presidential nominee Emily Grieves said her party goes wherever the students go — even if that means going downtown.

“There isn’t anything inherently wrong with drinking,” she said. “What is bad is then they overconsume, or when people get rowdy, or when there is fighting.”

Your Party’s platform states candidates want to address students’ alcohol overconsumption in a “progressive way.”

Over this past weekend, candidates from both Your Party and Go Party were seen drinking more than a single beer in downtown establishments.

But L Party members remained outside of the bars for their campaigning, L Party presidential candidate Ryan Kopf said.

“If we talk to someone in a bar, we ask them if they have thought about how they are getting home tonight and how they have thought of the safety issues related to all that,” he said, noting that his party’s platform includes an emphasis on late-night bus routes, adding more blue emergency lights, and improving lighting on the darker areas of campus.

As an alternative to drinking, L Party has also proposed creating an IMU basement bowling alley.
Kopf said his party doesn’t have the budget to organize large bar crawls like Go Party and Your Party. It has mainly relied on phone calls and maintaining a presence on the Pentacrest during the day, he said.

For nighttime campaigning, L Party candidates made use of technology to promote their platform in the Pedestrian Mall, rather than in bars.

On the evenings of April 3 and 4, they projected a large “L” on a downtown wall, stationing themselves around the area to talk to students and pass out buttons, Kopf said.

UI Provost Wallace Loh said he was unaware students campaigned downtown at night, but if it’s to promote alcohol safety, he can understand the need for it.

“We are not in the business of telling students not to drink or go to bars,” Loh said. “We just want to make sure it is done in the safest way possible.”

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