HOUSE and TOGA Parties to run in 2013 UISG election


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Students kicked off the 2013 University of Iowa Student Government election season early on Monday morning.

The official start of campaign season brings with it bright orange HOUSE Party shirts and light blue TOGA Party shirts, the release of party platforms, and a student body polarized along party lines.

Heading into the election season, Student Election Board Commissioner Peter Chalik said his biggest concern is how nominees use social media.

“As far as violations are concerned, social media is such a gray area, since it’s so new. Not all of the specifics have been codified,” Chalik said.

Both parties have a large social-media presence, including professional websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other forms of online communication.

Helping Our University and Students Engage - HOUSE

Presidential contender Katherine Valde and vice-presidential candidate Jack Cumming lead the HOUSE Party, a ticket of 39 students. 

Valde’s involvement in UISG includes her time this year as governmental-relations liaison and two years on UISG prior to that. She spearheaded the “Voting is Sexy” campaign during the 2012 election.

Both nominees said their experience also comes from familiarity with Iowa City.

“This platform represents not only our entire college careers, but a lifetime of synthesizing our understanding of the University of Iowa and identifying the problem areas that we, as students, are best equipped to address,” Cumming said.

Cumming is a two-year UISG incumbent who has served as the head of two committees.  He said their connections and visibility are key factors to winning the election.

Valde and Cumming said they plan on having one-on-one conversations mixed with “social-media blasts” in order to engage students.

The HOUSE Party platform covers eight topics, including UISG transparency, multicultural issues, and safety.

Valde said she’d like to focus on police and student relations if her ticket wins. The candidates would facilitate a town-hall meeting between the local police and students to discuss issues.

Additionally, the HOUSE Party plans to implement a “bike check” program, allowing students free, 24-hour rentals linked to their U-bills.

The TOGA Party has a similar initiative, called the “bike library.” TOGA would “work with the Iowa City local government to create a bike library in which the people would be able to rent a bike for the semester or entire school year for a minimal fee,” according to the platform.

Valde said she thinks the TOGA party rendition of the initiative “sounds indistinguishable from the Bike Library already located in Iowa City.”

Together Our Government Achieves - TOGA

Aaron Horsfield, the presidential nominee of the TOGA Party, is a junior and current speaker of the Senate for UISG. 

Running with Horsfield is Jostna Dash, who began with UISG this year. 

“What makes the TOGA party different is that [Dash and I] have a good grasp on the student experience,” Horsfield said.

Horsfield said his work with the UI Hospital and Clinics and Dash’s involvement as the president of the Indian Student Alliance make them experienced student leaders.

The TOGA platform revolves around the slogan, “your voice, your rights, your freedom.” Their initiatives fit into these respective categories, including tuition essays, a student-health program called ICare, and recycling machines on campus.

Their tuition essay initiative aims to allow students to “write small essays on why college should stay affordable and submit these essays in to win prizes,” according to their platform.

In Horsfield’s vision of UISG under the auspices of the Party, the student governing body would be a hub of student organizations and help instigate collaboration among student groups at all levels.

If the TOGA party wins on April 11, Dash said her goal next year is “to make sure that initiatives we have come into fruition and are set and leave a lasting impact on the University of Iowa community.”

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