UISG presidential hopefuls spar over student safety, bike libraries


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Candidates touched on their proposed bike programs, student safety plans, and what qualifies them to be the University of Iowa Student Government president during the first debate Wednesday evening.

The debate questions were chosen based on the party platforms and student suggestions. Instead of a traditional back and forth style, the respective candidates spoke to specific platform issues.

The UISG campaign kicked off April 1, and it will run for the next week. The election will take place on April 10 and 11 on ISIS, and the results will be announced April 12 in the IMU.

Both candidates support the SafeRide program, but Aaron Horsfield, TOGA Party presidential candidate, said that his party hopes to increase the number of free SafeRide rides a semester from one to two or more.

In total, students have used SafeRide approximately 110 times so far.

“Students are wary to use one ride per semester, and that’s why it’s so low,” Horsfield said. “Increasing it to two or three will promote the use of this more.”

Katherine Valde, the HOUSE Party presidential hopeful, explained why her party chose not to increase the number of SafeRide rides.

“It’s for emergency uses,” she said. “The reason that number is so low is because hopefully a lot of students don’t find themselves in dire situations. I would be concerned if we were having a lot of calls, because I think we’d need to do different things to progress safety on campus.”

The speakers defended their thoughts on a proposed bike rental program for the upcoming school year.

TOGA wants to buy bikes, with the help of the University of Iowa's Department of Parking and Transportation and “rent them to students for six to 12 months at a low cost,” Horsfield said.

The HOUSE platform’s proposed Bike Check would cater to students on campus and allow them to rent bikes. Valde dismissed concerns that theft would be an issue, saying the party has addressed that issue by including bike locks with each rental.

The candidates also touched on improving student organizations.

TOGA hopes to repurpose a section of the IMU to become a central location for student organizations, a resource center that would help encourage collaboration among organizations.

HOUSE wants to improve student organizations’ technological resources. It would facilitate the creation of a more accessible and functional website and help innovate a “master calendar” that would centralize student organization events and information, Valde said.

Valde also reflected on her accomplishments during her three-year involvement with UISG as a senator, liaison, as well as president of UI Democrats.

“I think there’s something on our platform that every single student can engage with,” she said. “This platform represents not just six months of research, not just my experience at Iowa, but literally a lifetime of growing up here.”

Horsfield recounted how his childhood failures molded him into the leader he is today and paved the foundation for the TOGA Party. Horsfield served as UISG speaker of the Senate this year and as an at-large senator his sophomore year.

“I failed, but my community members, my family, brought me up,” Horsfield told the audience of students, most clad in blue and orange, respectively, party T-shirts. “It’s because of the community that I became who I am today. That’s what TOGA is all about.”

Alec Bramel, the UISG City Council liaison, said he is nonpartisan. He did not feel either side“won” the debate.

“There wasn’t much of a debate,” Bramel said. “A lot of what I saw was just an explanation of platforms.”

Vice-presidential nominee Jack Cumming of HOUSE will debate Jostna Dash of TOGA at 7 p.m. April 8 in 348 IMU.


In the original version of this story, The Daily Iowan incorrectly reported that the TOGA party is working with the Iowa City Department of Transportation for their Bike Library program idea. The TOGA party is collaborating with the University of Iowa's Department of Parking and Transportation. The DI regrets the error.

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