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Letters to the Editor

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 13, 2010 7:10 AM

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University's new alcohol plan atrocious

As a recent graduate, I am glad I left the University of Iowa and Iowa City when I did. The recently unveiled Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan shows the lack of strategic thinking on the part of university administrators and their collusion with the City Council to make Iowa City something resembling a large monastery.

Simply put, the goal of the university should be to give students a superior education through great courses with amazing professors, try to help students graduate ready for employment in their chosen field, and try to keep their debt to a minimum. As a supplement to those goals, the university should do everything in its power to help motivated and intelligent students succeed at the UI as efficiently as possible. Policing their off-campus activities, upping the disciplinary ante, and trying to recruit "low-risk" students distracts from what the university administration should be doing to help students succeed.

Instead of trying to meet statistical goals with stupid plans, the university should emphasize preparing students for the future. That means lowering the cost of education. The university needs to help students graduate with minimal debt, not add to their costs by monitoring if they're slamming beers in their free time. Make academics the priority. Those who can't keep up academically or are too busy drinking will fail and figure their problems out themselves. They aren't the university administrator's problem; the flailing image of the UI is.

Furthermore, student housing, dining, and recreation at the university are atrocious and overpriced. The university pays lip service to increased night activities and more facilities, but the truth is most facilities are outdated and overpriced. If you want to help students succeed, give them nice facilities in which to live and study and help them reach their full academic potential — don't drown them with public-service health-awareness messages that waste their tuition dollars.

On a side note, all UI alumni who donate should carefully direct their donations. Don't just throw your money at the school so officials can spend it on some ill-planned project like the Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan that doesn't aid the educational mission of the university. Make sure to earmark your donations to the academic programs that matter to you and keep it from the administrators who use it to create work for themselves with misguided projects such as the Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan.

Jonathan Groves
UI graduate

Support county property-maintenance code

The League of Women Voters of Johnson County has been concerned for many years with the access of all county residents to decent homes and suitable living environment. We also believe that the Board of Supervisors must adopt strategies that recognize the county's changing demographics as population growth occurs. More recently we have begun to study the issue of regionalization of safe and sanitary water and wastewater facilities.

While residents of many cities in the county have been protected by appropriate city codes from unsafe and unsanitary living conditions, unsafe drinking water, and inadequate sewage disposal, residents of unincorporated areas have not. Every year, more people move into rural Johnson County, in addition to the rural mobile home parks and farm residences already there. Farmhouses are occasionally rented, and sometimes rural residences are abandoned because of bankruptcies.

Lack of county regulations has led to an uneven playing field for county residents.

Several years ago, for these reasons, we supported the adoption of the county building code. We note that this was not approved without opposition, but we have been pleased that we have heard very few complaints since its adoption. The Board of Supervisors at that time had the courage to do what was right for the public welfare in our growing county.

The supervisors' pending adoption of a property-maintenance code could assist the county in its duty to protect the health and welfare of its residents. The code would provide the authority, on a complaint basis, to regulate unsafe or unsanitary living conditions. A reading of the proposed code shows that only minimum standards would be set and that regulatory methods have been carefully drafted to protect individual rights. The code would bring protection equity to county residents with their counterparts in the cities. We are also glad that the standards would apply to places of public accommodation, as they are used by both city and rural customers.

We urge the Board of Supervisors to adopt the proposed property-maintenance code.

Polly Horton, president, League of Women Voters of Johnson County
Carol Spaziani, member, League of Women Voters of Johnson County Board of Directors

Why the focus on alcohol?

Despite the increasing issues in regards to free speech (such as the jailing of Julian Assange, a.k.a. "the WikiLeaks guy") and other pressing topics, Iowa City seems to only be focused on alcohol.

From the 21-ordinance to the Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan, attempting to restrict underage access to alcohol seems to be all that matters.

Although it sounds cliché, alcohol is a near-guaranteed part of the college experience. Despite whatever limitations the city or the university may place on access to alcohol, students will continue to find a way to get it. The mindsets behind both policies are in the right place. Attempting to decrease alcohol-related injuries and alcoholism is a great cause. However, these policies must be taken with a grain of salt.

In addition, the focus on these policies in the media around Iowa City is unsettling. Alcohol will always have a presence among college students, no matter what policy is enacted. Debates over such topics as free speech could cause changes to the rights of the entire nation. People need to be aware of such events, as their outcomes could change not only their lives, but the lives of future generations.

In the long run, alcohol is almost guaranteed to be present in the lives of college students, while as it stands, free-speech rights may change.

John Baginski
UI student


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