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Currie’s presidency marked by both success and failure thus far

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | DECEMBER 15, 2009 7:30 AM

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UI Student Government President Michael Currie is no stranger to controversy. The UISG Senate censured him as a senator for conducting what critics called a racist game. During the campaign in April, Currie and other members of his GO! Party refused to attend a debate they deemed unfair.

Continuing that trend, Currie’s presidency has been contentious as well — especially with his and UISG’s endorsement of the 6 percent tuition hike for next year and the $100 tuition surcharge for this spring. This controversy has overshadowed most of his term, and rightly so. It’s a widely unpopular move that will likely have damaging consequences to UISG-student relations for years to come.

As the semester comes to an end, it’s important to evaluate Currie’s term so far, weighing both the good and bad.

Currie and UISG have worked with UI administrators to implement some very beneficial measures. Keeping the Main Library open for 24 hours a day during finals week is perhaps the most impressive and beneficial achievement he has made. The extended hours are no small feat, considering the limited availability of study space.

With students staying out late to take advantage of the open hours, they’ll need transportation to accommodate their study schedule. Currie and the UISG have worked with officials to extend Nite Ride service until 5 a.m. this week, giving female students much-needed rides to and from the Main Library. The cold weather, icy conditions, and Iowa City’s notoriously limited downtown parking make public transportation essential. Kudos to Currie and UISG for working with officials to make this happen.

The UISG-sponsored tailgate at the IMU benefited students by showing UI officials that students can drink responsibly. Hopefully, such signs lead officials to think differently about how to tackle binge drinking by college students.

Currie’s most dubious decision, however, has been his backing of the tuition surcharge and tuition increase. These misguided policies will cause more harm than any of the good resulting from the aforementioned achievements. The UISG president defended his actions, saying the fiscal crisis forced his hand.

“If it were any other year, I would protest it,” he said.

Currie said he needed to back the measures in order to persuade UI officials to include a $60 service fee in the tuition increase instead of on top of it. But endorsing another surcharge and a tuition increase is still too big of a price to pay. His decision undercut his legitimacy; he now finds himself as the titular head of the student interest.

Currie also pushed a lag-lead tuition program for the UI. It would not freeze tuition, he said, but it would allow for a more controlled way of paying for college. Even though it is not a freeze, this promise stands in direct conflict with his support for the surcharge and tuition increase.

Currie’s decisions will have lasting consequences. Former UISG President Maison Bleam said this move will hurt UISG-student relations because students expect their president to fulfill his promises. And he’s right.

A promise is a debt, and Currie promised to help control the cost of going to school. He has since defaulted on that debt. With that reneging — and despite the several positive measures he’s pushed this semester — he has likely torpedoed the efficacy of his term.


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