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UI students and community to protest alleged size discrimination at The Union Bar

BY LOGAN EDWARDS | APRIL 30, 2012 6:30 AM

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The reported discrimination that one University of Iowa student alleged faced at the Union Bar has led to a proposed rally at the bar's doorstep.

UI junior Jordan Ramos alleges she was stopped by a Union employee March 3 upon attempting to join a friend on the bar's dance platform. When she returned April 4, she said employees allegedly referred to her as "pregnant" and "not pretty enough."

"They were letting a bunch of other girls on the platform, and the only difference [between them and I] was that they were thinner," she said.

Ramos has now organized a protest outside the Union Bar, 121 E College St., from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, during which she and protesters plan to demand a public apology for everyone who has been allegedly discriminated against or denied entry, a public admittance that these types of situations occur, and for the bar to have in writing it will allow every paying customer the same privileges in the future.

Officials from the Union Bar did not return calls Sunday night.

Robert Oberbillig, an adjunct clinic professor at Drake University, said discrimination based on weight or size is not against the law, unlike discrimination based on sex, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

"With legislative action, it could become protected by law," he said, adding he was unaware of legislation that had prevented such discrimination.

Ramos said she plans to continue to bring awareness of the bar's alleged actions.

"I am looking to raise awareness and get people talking about the issue of size discrimination," she said.

UI senior Rachel Hughes said she will attend the rally.

"I feel like most students are pretty supportive or they are super against it," she said. "It surprises me how many people are against the protest when it is a fellow student who feels like she has been wronged."

Ramos created a Facebook group for the rally, which has 186 people (as of 9 p.m. Sunday) who have signified they will attend.

Though Iowa City Human Rights Commission member Howard Cowen said Ramos' situation is not a violation of the law, he encouraged other concerned citizens to ask questions and make their cases.

"From a personal perspective, I think the more publicity a situation like this gets, the more people might take action in their own way," Cowen said.

UI junior Kenzie Schadel, who was with Ramos during both alleged incidents, said the situation has disappointed her.

"When someone goes out to have fun with friends, they shouldn't have to worry about feeling like they are inadequate and not worthy of equal treatment," she said.

Ramos said she has heard arguments that obesity is unhealthy but said she is not trying to advocate for it.

"I understand that obesity is unhealthy, and I'm not condoning it," she said. "What I am trying to do is say that we are all human beings, and we all deserve to be treated equally."


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