THE STUDENT VOICE COUNTS: As long as it isn't actually COUNTED.

Partly to counter the perennial push for a 21-ordinance and partly to satisfy the trendy screams for "civic engagement," the University of Iowa Student Government has been working overtime to convince somebody that the "student voice" matters.

I mean, let's boil down the issues here. As students, the long-term stability of Iowa City isn't a concern; hell, I doubt anyone even knows a thing about the energy privatization vote next Tuesday. Our beef revolves around open bars, the availability of kegs, better parking and the presence old couches on our porches.

In order to push these “student issues”, UISG worked feverishly last year to add a new player to the mix. Since May, Jeremy Schreiber has served on the frontline as UISG's non-voting City Council liaison. The brainchild of past Vice President Jason Shore, this position was meant to foster closer relations between the student body and the harassed citizenry of Iowa City. Jockeying for City Council support for Schreiber was enough of a task, let alone in UISG, given the untimely disclosure of an underage drinking ticket.

After serving on the Nominations Committee and orchestrating the legislative maneuvering to get Schreiber confirmed (with the ever Honorable Barry Pump--oh, he is an institution), less than six months later I have my doubts. Student participation sounds like a fine, high and lofty goal, but why?

Apparently Councilor Dee Vanderhof has also witnessed the disconnect, noting that "Schreiber only offered input on issues directly pertaining to issues important to students instead of taking a more expansive view of the city."

To be sure, this problem is not just isolated to Jeremy. Anyone would be in a pickle. There just aren't enough issues to make the "collective student voice"--that the powers that be like to harp on about--relevant. And as transitory residents, how could we have an expansive view?

In contrast, Tom Niblock and Kelly Mellecker are actually civically engaging (yeah, it's an expression) by serving on the Housing and Community Development Commission. In this capacity, the students have the opportunity to allocate a small pot of money for affordable housing--an issue that every overcharged, AUR-hating Iowa student can understand.

So where is the balance? I don’t know. But, if you’ve got a solution I surely would be glad to write-up a resolution for the next student assembly meeting.

Embittered toward UISG, indeed.

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