Raj Patel withdraws as UI student

BY DORA GROTE | OCTOBER 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa Student Government leaders said Monday there are no plans to drop their endorsement of City Council Candidate Raj Patel, even though he is no longer a UI student.

Patel, formerly a UI junior, said he withdrew from his classes at the university following his success in the primary election last week and the "rigorous" time commitment attached to running his campaign. Patel will, however, continue to take classes as a full-time student at Kirkwood Community College.

"I was taught growing up and I see it around Iowa City every day, that the secret to success was a strong work ethic, but also knowing one's limitations, and it no longer made sense to remain a full-time student … while running a rigorous campaign," Patel said in a press release.

UISG formally endorsed Patel Oct. 4. The motion was previously tabled, because some senators expressed concern Michelle Payne — a part-time student at the UI — should also be considered.

UISG Speaker of the Senate Nic Pottebaum said the legislation would stand unless a UISG senator proposed legislation to overturn it.

But UISG President Elliot Higgins said Patel's withdrawal as a UI student "may change the dynamics of the race."

"It's up to the voters of Iowa City whether Raj does represent the voice of students, but it's difficult to claim yourself as the voice of students if you're not a University of Iowa student," Higgins said.

UISG Vice President Brittany Caplin agreed.

"I think that he needs to prove that he still has the student interests in mind and represents us to the best of his ability," she said.

Whether he is elected to the Iowa City City Council or not, Patel said, he plans to re-enroll at the UI after his campaign, emphasizing his choice to remain at Kirkwood, taking courses for his political-science degree.

"The evolution of the flexibility of my University of Iowa courses had changed as my campaign began to show momentum, whereas my Kirkwood classes remain flexible, and I will continue to attend classes there full-time while the campaign continues," the release said.

UISG Executive Associate Kevin Paulsen and other officials said Patel's choice to withdraw from his classes confirms their previous concerns of his taking on too much with school, his campaign, and his former position as City Council liaison. Patel resigned from his city council liaison post last month.

"We knew that running a campaign is a grueling process that involves a lot of time commitment, and that I think now this shows that Raj has really discovered that," Paulsen said.

Caplin said she was glad Patel has recognized his need to focus on one thing and withdrawing was a "mature decision" on his behalf.

The UISG Senate has the ability to endorse any City Council candidate, and officials said if a senator proposed the legislation to endorse Payne, it would be considered.

Payne said she has a busy schedule but does not plan on dropping anything to campaign.

"I work full-time, and my full-time is at least 60 hours a week," she said. "I'm on the Planning and Zoning Commission, which meets four times a month, I'm taking nine hours at the university, and I spend time with my campaign. I am the type of person who thrives on things to do."

The council election will be held Nov. 8.

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