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Local organizations flood Sen. Hamerlinck’s email

BY BRITTANY TREVICK | JUNE 20, 2011 7:20 AM

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Students across Iowa said they are still in search of an apology from an Iowa senator who tried to discourage them from lobbying at the Capitol earlier this month.

And despite an official apology issued by Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck, R-Dixon, on June 16, students said they will continue to flood his in box.

The Iowa Democratic Party originally planned to send 1,000 e-mails to Hamerlinck, following an outburst in which he asked a group of students lobbying for more education funding to “leave the political circus” up to legislators on June 6.

After the Iowa Democratic Party surpassed its goal of sending 1,000 e-mails to Hamerlinck, the group reached out to students and legislators through Campus Progress to send 500 more, said former University of Iowa Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students President Lyndsay Harshman. Campus Progress aims to mobilize left-wing students to do the work they think needs to be done in their state.

“It’s a very common tactic to have your members mass letter-write [their representatives] when they’re not behaving,” said former President of UI Democrats Dane Hudson.

Hamerlinck issued an apology in a letter to the Quad-City Times on June 16.

“In the end, my attempt to keep impressionable students out of the fray has instead ingested them into it, and for that I apologize,” Hamerlinck said.

But Harshman said Hamerlinck has not responded to her June 14 e-mail, in which she asked for a general apology to students.

“The words you spoke last week conveyed a sentiment that is detrimental to active engagement in the civic and legislative processes I hold truly dear, as do many of my colleagues,” Harshman wrote.

College Republican leader Natalie Ginty said her organization follows Hamerlinck’s sentiment on student lobbying and was satisfied with his apology.

“[Hamerlinck] is still a representative, and students can do what they want, and this is definitely within their rights,” Ginty said. “But I think the issue has gone too far, and I don’t think it’s worth their time [to continue to write e-mails].”

UI Student Government Vice President Brittany Caplin said she was in shock after hearing what Hamerlinck said, and she is proud of how everyone has reacted.

“Now, we look like the good guys, and he looks like the bad guy,” she said.

UIstudent and former Daily Iowan editor Brian Stewart wrote an open letter to Hamerlinck in theDesMoines Register saying, “Unfortunately your statement did little to remedy concerns about your belittling views towards students’ political activism.

UI Democrats President Nate Fiala, who has also helped to orchestrate the e-mail writing, said he felt it was necessary to contact the senator because it is his job to listen to all of his constituents.

“[He is] shrinking away from [his] responsibilities as a representative,” Fiala said.

Michael Appel, the vice president of the Executive Council, said he has taken part by joining student governments from Iowa’s other regents’ institutions by sending letters to Paul McKinley, the minority leader in the Senate, the Republican leadership, and the Democratic leadership.

He said he will continue going to the Capitol to lobby and that the Senate will be hearing more from his group.

“It is not going to stop us from what we as students have a right to do,” Appel said.

UISG President Elliot Higgins said he, along with Appel, will continue to lobby at the Capitol.

“We will talk to anyone who will listen,” he said.

Hamerlinck did not immediately return phone calls from The Daily Iowan seeking comment.


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