UISG arrest rate on-par with student body


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Though current University of Iowa Student Government members have nearly the same rate of non-traffic criminal citations than the average UI undergraduate, leaders are working to raise behavior standards.

The arrest rates for undergraduates overall in 2009-2010 was 5.1 percent, according to the Fraternity and Sorority Life Alcohol Task Force's 2010 report. Of 52 current UISG members in legislative and executive branches three — or 5.8 percent — received at least one non-traffic criminal citation as of Nov. 5.

Though USIG President Elliot Higgins said his organization has an understanding that people do have run-ins with the law, he said recent legislation intends to raise the bar.

"People are not defined by their mistakes," Higgins said. "They are defined by how they learn from these experiences and move forward."

Charges included one unlawful use of license charge, a simple misdemeanor, two consumption/intoxication charges, simple misdemeanor, OWI, serious misdemeanor, and presence in a bar after hours, a simple misdemeanor.

The data were gathered by comparing a report of non-traffic criminal citations from the general student population to citations of current UISG members reached via the Iowa Courts Online website.

Higgins said UISG passed legislation last week to update the organization's code of ethics. The legislation will go into effect after he signs the document, he said.

UISG Speaker of the Senate Nicholas Pottebaum, who submitted the legislation, said the bill clarifies the appeal process and lays out specific expectations for the student senate.

Pottebaum said he was unsure whether this would cause an increase or decrease in the number of UISG members who are criminally charged, adding he couldn't tell whether a specific trend exists as many of the charges occurred before he was speaker of the Senate.

The point at which someone would be required to leave UISG is difficult to determine, Pottebaum said. He said when an issue arises, an interview with the person involved is taken into account.

"There's so many different types of criminal charges," Pottebaum said. "Sometimes that conversation with that individual is going to affect more, and sometimes it won't. It just really depends."

Former Sen. Rishabh Nath, who was removed from UISG Oct. 10 after being charged with first-degree harassment and assault, said the percentage comparing the two demographics "kind of speaks for itself."

He also said he's planning on filing his appeal to get his position back in the next few weeks after he continues to review the appeals process.

Vice President of Student Services Tom Rocklin said these types of incidents are "internal UISG" matters and "not something the administration would get involved in."

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