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Do you object to UI Student Government taking a stance on the 21-ordinance?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | SEPTEMBER 17, 2010 7:20 AM

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YES

University of Iowa Student Government loses both its credibility and influence when it begins posturing simply to advance a narrow agenda.

The members did exactly that this week.

For nearly six months, UISG avoided publicly approving or condemning the 21-ordinance. On Tuesday night, however, the Senate voted 16-9 to come out against the ordinance. Both President John Rigby and Vice President Erica Hayes have voiced their opposition to 21-only. So does a body-wide, nonunanimous vote really have more of an effect?

There were other issues as well. UISG Sen. Raj Patel, who is also a member of Yes to Entertaining Students Safely, the student group opposing 21-only, put forth the resolution. If that sounds like a conflict of interest, it gets better: Patel also helped secure $10,000 of UISG's budget to "be used for T-shirts and other incentives for students" to encourage voting this fall according to an article in Wednesday's Daily Iowan.

Thus, instead of increasing the monetary backing for other UISG initiatives such as the 10,000 Hours Show or Dance Marathon, one senator has managed to help bolster his own extracurricular project with UISG funding. Public service appears to be taking on a whole new meaning.

Matt Pfaltzgraf and Jim Mondanaro, both leaders of anti-21 groups, lauded the stance and questioned why students, who are arguably most affected by the ordinance, did not have a voice speaking out on their behalf sooner. But if this is UISG standing up for student rights, what does it look like when it stands up for student safety?

And if members of the student government really wanted to take a stance that influenced their cohorts, they should have undergone nonpartisan debates and taken a vote — around six months ago.

— by Kirsten Jacobsen

NO

The University of Iowa Student Government senators voted in favor of repealing the 21-ordinance on Tuesday night. Yes to Entertaining Students Safely, Iowa City Safety Committee, 21 Makes Sense, UI Faculty Senate, and UI officials all care. Who is missing from that list?

Ah, yes — UI students.

Student interest in UISG is as about as great as interest in the current political crisis in Italy. Many students perceive as UISG a powerless organization filled with résumé builders. Many believe UISG's presence on campus is irrelevant and unrepresentative of the larger university population.

This apathy was on display in this spring's UISG elections, when only roughly 9 percent of undergraduates participated.

But while many students could care less about UISG, the organization still has an obligation to create an agenda centered on students' interests. The purpose of student government is to provide the means by which students' needs are addressed.

Right now one of the greatest student needs is resolution of the 21-ordinance debate — at least in many students' minds.

Some may argue that UISG shouldn't take a position on the 21-ordinance because of members' conflict of interest, including Sen. Raj Patel, who is also member of Yes to Entertaining Students Safely. Others believe that UISG should be more involved and proactive on academic issues, rather than dabbling in the 21-ordinance controversy.

But, whether you like it or not, the culture of alcohol does affect our campus and, in turn, the academic progress of students.

UISG was right to voice its opinion on the issue. It should create a campaign for its — excuse me, our — cause and go before UI officials and the City Council to petition, raise awareness, and give voice to the voiceless.

— by Emily Inman


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