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UISG split on endorsing Patel

BY KRISTEN EAST | SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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Student government leaders and a student City Council candidate have apparently not yet settled their differences.

After much deliberation at Tuesday night's meeting, the University of Iowa Student Government Senate tabled a piece of legislation that would have endorsed Raj Patel's City Council bid.

That comes after Patel resigned his UISG post last week. Patel's campaign told The Daily Iowan he was forced out, but UISG leaders say Patel's departure was voluntary.

Two years ago, UISG passed legislation endorsing three UI students running for City Council spots. That endorsement passed with little controversy.

UISG leaders did not expect the Patel-endorsement legislation to be controversial on Tuesday.

"It's going to be passed with very little conversation," UISG Vice President Brittany Caplin said before the Senate meeting. "A lot of student-government members are volunteering for his campaign."

Caplin insisted group officials haven't changed their position on the matter, iterating that Patel was not forced out of his UISG post.

"We've always said that we wish Raj the best," she said. "We still stand by what's going on and what we've said."

Sens. Blake Riffel and Joe Van Zant submitted the piece of legislation and argued Tuesday night it be passed rather than tabled because early voting starts soon.

"Raj has demonstrated himself to be a great student leader," Van Zant said. "He has a student-initiatives platform."

But some senators argued the body shouldn't endorse Patel because he hasn't asked the group for its support. Further, some senators expressed their concern over the legislation endorsing a single student candidate when there are two in the race — Patel and part-time student Michelle Payne.

Though Payne admitted she doesn't know much about UISG, she said she would love to have its support.

"For nontraditional students, we don't see much of student government, going to school just at night or [taking] online classes," Payne said. "I don't see much of what [UISG] does for students, which is unfortunate for me."

Senators suggested both should come to the next meeting on Oct. 4 to promote their platforms and formally ask for support.

Patel said he would like to have the support of UISG.

"I'd be honored to have the endorsement of the University of Iowa Student Government," Patel said before the meeting.

Patel also said he would like to continue working with UISG in the future.

"If elected, I would look forward to the opportunity to work with UISG to ensure that students are best represented on the City Council," he said. "I hope that in the future we can always work together to best represent the students."

Josh Eklow, also a candidate for City Council, graduated last May from the UI. He said he didn't have a problem with student organizations endorsing student candidates.

"I don't see anything wrong with that," he said. "If one current student is in the race, it makes sense to me why they would support them."

Caplin said the recent controversy between UISG and Patel is only a minor speed bump in regards to its platform goals for this school year.

"This is a very, very minor thing in terms of the entire spectrum of the year," she said.

Student leaders say the issue will be brought up again at UISG's next general Senate meeting, Oct. 4.


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