Editorial: UISG presidential debate telling


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University of Iowa Student Government presidential candidates Katherine Valde of the HOUSE Party (Helping Our University and Students Engage) and Aaron Horsfield of the TOGA Party (Together Our Government Achieves) explained their qualifications and platforms at a debate on Wednesday night.

Valde grew up in Iowa City, which she said familiarized her with the area, and she highlighted her experience in UISG, which included the “Voting Is Sexy” campaign and lobbying at the Statehouse to keep tuition low.

Horsfield grew up in a small Iowa town where he said he developed his leadership abilities after “I failed, but my community members, my family brought me up.”

While Valde emphasized getting students involved in the UI and Iowa City community, Horsfield generally focused on collaboration among students, legislators, and others to achieve both the party’s and students’ goals.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board feels that most of TOGA’s proposals were often redundant or would be ineffective, while HOUSE generally had clearer, more achievable goals.

Horsfield said TOGA wants to expand the number of free rides students can get through SafeRide from one to two or three.

“Students are wary to use one ride per semester, and that’s why [ridership is] so low,” Horsfield said.
Valde thought it would be better to leave the program as it is.

Considering that Horsfield failed to provide evidence that students are concerned about using their free rides, it seems unwise to invest even more resources into SafeRide next year because it has only been used approximately 110 times since the program began in the fall 2012 semester.

Aside from student safety, the candidates also discussed proposals for providing easy access to rental bikes.

Valde proposed a “bike check” program that would allow students to rent a bike for free from the IMU for up to 24 hours.

“We want to give students an option to just get away from campus for a day, to go off campus, to run errands that are maybe close enough to ride a bike to, but there’s not a bus that goes there, and you don’t have a car,” she said.

Horsfield said his administration would implement a “bike library” that would lend bikes to students for six months to a year for a small fee. These bikes would be lended in collaboration with the UI Department of Parking and Transportation.

However, because the Iowa City Bike Library already provides virtually the exact same service, Horsfield’s idea could waste resources that could be better managed. Although the Iowa City Bike Library will be moving farther from campus in the near future, starting another on campus wouldn’t be worthwhile considering how infrequently bikes would be rented and returned under TOGA’s program.

Where student engagement was concerned, Valde said HOUSE wants to provide website templates for all campus organizations so that people could find them through web searches instead of having to go through Orgsync, the current portal for student group, which can be difficult to use.

Valde also said her administration intends to implement a master calendar mobile app that would allow students to find events around Iowa City on a given day that any student organization could update.

Finally, announcements could be made through the Cambus PA system that would “promote sporting events, weather, KRUI, again student org events, multicultural events, things that are happening on campus.”

Horsfield’s ideas focused mainly on helping existing student organizations work together. He proposed holding student leadership summits and creating a student organization resource room in the IMU. Horsfield suggested that if an organization wants to make a promotional video, that it go through the student video production group as opposed to an outside organization.

“We want to make sure that we facilitate interactions between various student organizations,” he said.

While we definitely support the initiatives Horsfield proposed, overall, we feel that Valde presented the strongest case and offered the best solutions for UI students.

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