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Some in UISG no strangers to tickets

BY REGINA ZILBERMINTS | MAY 13, 2009 7:30 AM

Even as UI Student Government members try to move ahead with their plans to curb students’ binge drinking, background checks show nine of those representatives have received drinking-related tickets.

The question for UI officials — along with current and former UISG members — is how much those tickets affect representatives’ credibility and ability to lead the students.

Ten current representatives have criminal charges other than traffic violations, including UISG Vice President JD Moran, who was charged with public intoxication in 2008. Most of the tickets are alcohol-related, but three carry other charges, including theft, burglary, and malicious prosecution.

The previous two administrations have also had members with criminal charges, though court records show slightly more current members have drinking tickets than in previous years.

Student leaders agree criminal charges are not necessarily indicators of a senator’s ability to lead and noted it depends on the nature of the charge.

“People make mistakes,” said UISG President Mike Currie, who has no criminal record beyond speeding tickets. “Having one bad night downtown doesn’t make you less able to lead students.”
Moran agreed, saying he had made a mistake, but one public-intoxication ticket doesn’t result in bad leadership.

Most of the representatives with tickets have only one charge, he said, and they have contributed to the community through philanthropy and other efforts.

Former UISG President Barrett Anderson, who served during the 2007-08 school year and who has no criminal record, said the question is whether students want leaders to represent a variety of experiences or whether they should be the best the students have to offer. UISG should have both, he said. While the organization needs model students, it also needs to make sure as many students as possible have a voice.

“You don’t have a diversity of experience if all the student government hasn’t been through what a majority of the student body has been through,” Anderson said.

Currie pointed out the percentage of UISG members with drinking tickets is likely not much different from the percentage of students as a whole.

While one alcohol ticket is not a reflection on a person, Currie said, a consistent pattern of violations, or a history of violent crime is a bigger problem.

No member of this year’s Senate — or of the previous two years’ — has any violence-related charges. But several members have a pattern of violations.

Sen. Joey Diaz has received five public-intoxication tickets, along with charges for interference with official acts and unlawful use of a license. Sen. Ryan Osby has pleaded guilty to public intoxication three times and to misuse of a license to acquire alcohol twice, and he has one charge for malicious prosecution, court records show.

Sen. Cassie Creasy has two PAULAs and one charge of fourth-degree theft, which is still pending.
The three could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

“It’s problematic,” said Bill Nelson, the director of the UI Office of Student Life. “One of the expectations of senators is that they’re responsible members of the community. They have to be credible and be good role models, and violations of the law can call into question their credibility.”

Anderson, however, noted these tickets likely wouldn’t damage senators’ credibility with students, though it could affect their credibility with police or UI officials and with the state Board of Regents.
UISG has no bylaws on senator behavior related to alcohol consumption, Nelson said, and Currie said it hasn’t been a problem.

Ultimately, student leaders agreed, representatives are elected by students.

“The whole point of elections is so students can make up their minds on who they want to represent them,” Anderson said. “If the students want them to represent them, there’s nothing anyone can do.”


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