UISG VP candidates spar on alcohol alternatives, sustainability


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The University of Iowa Student Government vice-presidential candidates debated Monday night.

Jack Cumming and Jostna Dash went back and forth on several issues for students at the UI, ranging from off-campus housing concerns to sustainability to alcohol-free alternatives on campus.

The opposing parties are the HOUSE Party, led by presidential candidate Katherine Valde and running mate Cumming, and the TOGA Party, headed by presidential candidate Aaron Horsfield and running mate Dash.

Many of the questions directed at the candidates concerned alcohol on campus and the university’s “party school” reputation.

“The party image is no new thing for the UI,” Cumming said. “We hope to make a master calendar easily accessible for all students, which will list every alternative event to alcohol on campus.”

Dash hopes to promote a health initiative on campus, which would raise awareness of exercise and wellness efforts for students at the university and encourage students to shy away from drinking for health reasons.

However, both candidates are in favor of student-organization-sponsored bar crawls, which has been a subject of controversy among UI students. When asked if they thought the university should ban them, both candidates responded with a resounding no.

“Sports teams get all their funding to travel to games from bar crawls,” Cumming said. “If the university bans bar crawls, it would be banning most of the club sports on campus.”

Students were encouraged to submit questions for debate to Student Election Board Commissioner Peter Chalik via email in the days preceding the event. Chalik, the event facilitator, said that there were approximately seven students who submitted questions for the debate.

Cumming, who is in his second year as a UISG senator, is an Iowa City native who feels that his intimate understanding of the city will benefit his potential term as vice president.

“The university has been in my blood my entire life, and I want to give back,” he said.

Dash is a junior enjoying her first run in UISG. She is the president of the Indian Student Alliance, the largest multicultural student organization on campus.

HOUSE covers eight platforms, which include sustainability, transparency, and campus safety.

TOGA’s platform is divided into three major categories: health, sustainability, and tuition essays. It developed a tuition-essay initiative in hopes of maintaining the tuition freeze for the UI.

When asked about the tenant-landlord issues, the candidates presented their party’s solutions.

Dash said TOGA hopes to create a website similar to ratemyprofessor.com, in which previous tenants would be able to describe their past landlords to the benefit of students seeking housing.

Cumming said HOUSE feels the UISG must be active in keeping students informed about Iowa City landlords via the Internet as well.

Both parties also want students to become more familiar and comfortable with UISG but differ on the means.

“The HOUSE Party has all the tools and experience,” Cumming said. “We want to engage the student body and create a better undergraduate experience.”

Dash had her own view.

“The TOGA Party wants to work together,” she said. “We’re trying to do things that have never been done. We’re not here to play politics; we’re here to create change.”

Voting will commence at midnight Wednesday and continue until 5 p.m. Thursday.

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