Vote or booze


Two years ago, Iowa City residents saw the resolve of UI students when the 21-ordinance was voted down. Many proponents of the 21-only cynically thought the main reason these youngsters came out was to keep their binge-drinking habits intact.

The point did have some validity to it, but it didn’t make the students’ involvement any less important.

This year, after many months of consternation about the City Council, three students have taken it upon themselves to run for council seats. The at-large City Council primary will be held on Oct. 6, and the general election will come on Nov. 3. UI students will likely come out and show their support for these three candidates. However, my wariness on this subject is growing by the second.

Negative stereotypes of UI students will only increase if we make a mockery of the upcoming proceedings.

We cannot let that happen.

Changing public perception of UI students will take more than one year, but starting now can build a head of steam for the future. Participating in the city’s electoral process will show the public we have greater concerns than where our next drink will come from. If we want issues such as rent control, parking fees, and taxes to be solved, then a faint whisper of participation can’t be our response.

Students may attempt to change the stereotypes, but it’s the three student candidates — seniors Jeff Shipley and Jared Bazzell and junior Dan Tallon — who could spark the most change. Their leadership could show the students that our time here doesn’t have to be four years and a cloud of dust. We might be gone, but every year there are thousands of incoming students. Our concerns will become theirs.

All three student-candidates have the opportunity to create a strong message. But they can also amplify the criticisms from students’ detractors. Their efforts will be put on prime display by this process. If their intentions are pure, they will have won. And to a smaller extent, the students will have as well.

Having already confirmed in past columns that I consider myself a positive person, I will believe in their good intentions unless otherwise persuaded. But their platforms had better not consist of 90 percent alcohol-related issues, or they will lose my support faster than you can say “Bud Light.”

As college students, we gloriously celebrate the politician that can (supposedly) bring about real change. But if we become what we despise, then Iowa City residents have the right to bombard us with complaints and arguments.

As students, we have to be just as enthused about this election process as we were for last year’s presidential election. To a greater degree, even. Certain issues the council deals with directly affect our lives for four years or more. Our political detachment is ignorant, considering the amount of money we inject into the local economy.

Overall, the students are not some drunken mass of inebriates. That perception is both biased and damaging to those who make the right decisions. If you want to judge us, then do so by means which we can respond to. Elections are a perfect example. They require minimal effort and can produce enormous results.

The upcoming City Council elections will help determine our place in this community. We can accept our stereotype and agree with city officials that we are lazy and unmotivated. Or we can shift opinion and shape Iowa City en masse for our benefit.

The three students entering this race have shown their willingness to participate. It’s time we heard from the students.

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