Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

A Life Transformed

David Naso and one of his first rocking chairs

By Sean Malone

From the outside, the building is nondescript.  Long and beige it sits tucked down on the city’s south side amid various warehouses and thrift shops.  Seemingly the only remarkable thing about the building is the red and green accents that frame the two doors facing the half paved, half gravel parking lot.  Inside of this testament to architectural functionality resides the woodworking shop of a man whose abilities as a craftsman of fine furniture have taken his pieces into the realm of art and far, far away from the day to day practicality that most furniture in our lives serve.
With curly white hair and eyes that seem to brighten when he speaks with you, David Naso is a man who loves his work.  It has created a life for him that most occupations do not or perhaps cannot.  Many of his customers have become his friends.  He senses the importance of the pieces that he creates in the overall feeling that people want to convey and possess in their homes and businesses. “You can buy a chair at Target for forty bucks that you can sit on” said Naso.  “What I do is more of the artistic realm and that was the market that I wanted to go after.  I mean you have to say that it is something.  I went towards the art work and that has been my salvation.”  Through this sense of caring about his customers, they have in turn, helped nurture and grow his woodworking shop into an artisan’s studio whose work is sought out world wide.

A Non-Conventional Path

After graduating with a B.A. from the University of Iowa in 1965 Naso returned to his hometown of Cedar Rapids, IA and went into the restaurant business with his father Tony.  “I was always in the restaurant business.  From the time that I was in grade school, all of the way through college” said Naso.  The restaurant, Tony’s Pizza, was a success and soon Naso was joined in the business by his brother Larry.  They opened another restaurant, Potpourri, but it didn’t succeed at the level of the pizzeria.  After a divorce from his ex-wife Jane, Naso was feeling somewhat burned out on the restaurant business.
In 1975 they began selling their businesses and by 1976 they were completely out of the industry.  For Naso this marked the beginning of a spiritual journey and a quest to find a sense of community that he had yet to experience in his life.
In 1977 this search for community led Naso to the northeast corner of Iowa.  On the banks of the Turkey River, 15 miles to the southeast of the picturesque town of Elkader he found the community that he was seeking.  A few like minded seekers had purchased around 400 acres of timber and prairie and set about restoring and repairing not only the property, but their personal belief systems on what it means to be a community.  As a way to support his new life Naso and another resident of the farm Ginny Croker, who he would later marry, started the Turkey Valley Construction Company.  Naso frequently participated in retreats at the New Melleray Monastery near Dubuque in an effort to understand their way of community.  These retreats would lead directly to his development as a furniture maker.
“I got to know the brothers down there really well” said Naso.  “We’d have dinners together and then one of the brothers down there asked if our little construction company could build furniture and I jumped on it.  I said absolutely we can do that.  So that’s how it all started.  They funded us.”  With seed money in hand the newlyweds Naso and Croker-Naso along with a friend named Bob O’Conner combined their small business with two experienced furniture makers from the Amana Colonies and created Woodworkers to complete the project near the Iowa City area.

West of Iowa City, in the small community of Windom, the project was completed in what Naso describes as “a tin shed that this guy had built to raise night crawlers.  Raise worms in”.  With rent of only $150 a month for the shed, the crew was able to see the monks order through and deliver the pieces to the monastery on time.  After the completion of the project though there was no business on the horizon for the young company. The woodworkers from the Amana’s needed to make more money to support their families and they separated themselves from the business.
Not wanting to give up on what he had learned Naso and two new partners then moved into a shop on S. Dubuque St. in Iowa City that he would call home for 25 years.  Naso chortled and added “The plan had always been to move everything back to the farm after the project but we got sucked into the Iowa City vortex.  Once you get in here, you can’t get out.”

A Bourgioning Business

Business was slow though.  Naso had to rely on odd jobs between projects to make ends meet.  When asked what types of jobs he did, he burst out laughing.  “I don’t think you want to get into that” he said and paused.  Slightly embarrassed he continued.  “I taught at the University Hospitals.  I taught second and third year med students how to give genital and rectal examinations.”  Pausing, I had to ask him what exactly his qualifications to teach med students were at the time.  “I had a penis and an asshole” he said, cracking up.  “One of the other woodworkers had been doing it for a couple of years and said it was an easy way to make a lot of money.  Once you get passed the modesty factor it’s real easy, and it paid $75 an hour and in 1980 that was a lot of money.”  Work more in line with his craft however was soon to follow.

In 1981 Naso and 13 other local woodworkers formed a guild in Iowa City and began promoting themselves.  They pooled their money for advertising and began having shows at Old Brick Church near the Pentacrest.  In their very first show they kept track of the number of people who came and were surprised by the turnout.  Twelve to thirteen hundred people turned out for the show.  Nearly five years since the beginning of the project for the monastery “things started popping” he said.
Another spin-off from the woodworker’s guild turned into a gallery that remains an Iowa City mainstay.  The Iowa Artisans Gallery combined woodworkers, potters, along with fabric and basket people to showcase their wares.  The gallery didn’t necessarily help Naso due to its small size and inability to showcase furniture, but it did introduce him “to some fantastic artists in the community”.
Over the course of the next decade, Naso developed what he referred to as “Patron Saints”.  Two customers whose continued support and desire for his artisanship helped introduce him to more and more people who saw the beauty and worth in his craft.  One of those customers, Susan Farrell, a local car salesperson in the Iowa City area began her relationship with Naso when she was 23 years old by ordering a simple piece.  Naso believes that she now has over twenty different of his designs in her home.
“I discovered David through a friend after looking to purchase a desk” said Farrell   “I met him and he showed me his work.  David proceeded to build a beautiful desk along with many other pieces over the past 25 years.  I have so many favorites and it would be difficult to pick one.  He has built two beds for me, end tables, coffee table, and a lingerie cabinet!  The lingerie is a masterpiece.”
Although the personal relationships Naso has developed over the years through his work have helped to not only sustain and grow his business, his work with the University of Iowa and local businesses has also helped to propel his reputation as an elite furniture maker and artisan.  An act of nature in 1995 helped to cement his relationship within the university community.  Straight-line winds tore through the Iowa City area tearing off roofs and downing thousands of trees.  On the University of Iowa Pentecrest and a 157 year old red elm crashed outside of the President of the University’s office.
As a woodworker whose desire to make his pieces out of the same tree “in an effort to control the medium, to create a homogonous look within the continuity of the piece”, this red elm was Naso’s white whale.  After convincing the workers who had begun to cut up the elm to stop, he was able to have it removed to a friend’s shop where it was milled and stored for three years.  A tragedy on campus in the fall of 1991 would be the impetuous of a project in which Naso would create all new doors and a twelve foot conference table for the offices of then President Mary Sue Coleman out of the very tree that was felled by the winds.
With a reputation growing as a serious artisan and fine furniture maker Naso’s business blossomed.  It took him to Morocco where he worked for a year leading fifteen local artisans from the cultural center of Fez to build the furniture and interior for a 21,000 square foot palace in Rabat.  Again his work led to the forming of personal relationships and extended family.  “I became friends with my guys and we’d spend the weekends together.  We’d go back to their homes in Fez and stay at their homes. Ginny and I became part of the family”.
With the project completed, Naso is again in Iowa City.  Solidified by a reputation as a meticulous craftsman his business and art thrive.  Owner of M.C. Ginsberg Jewelers: Objects of Art, Mark Ginsberg had Naso build all of his cabinetry and display cases.  “It’s that attention to details that you don’t even see that reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright” Ginsberg stated.  “The wood is impeccably finished.  On the cabinets he used a cherry veneer that is much easier to work with if you have the grain going top to bottom.  David used the grain of the wood going the other way however to create the drama of a horizontal landscape”.

The Future
When asked what he saw happening in his life going forward Naso paused, smiled and replied.  “I have no real goals.  I enjoy what I do and the way the work is going right now.  I’m not building as much and been really enjoying the all of the designing”.  With the interview done the woodworker stood up and put on a pair of ear protectors, thanked me, and headed back into his shop toward a rocker perched on three foot table and began to sand it by hand.

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Breast Cancer: save yourself & grope yourself.

Students can show their suport and reminders by displaying ribbons, stickers, pins, shirts, etc.

Breast cancer, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, is the most common cancer among women according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast cancer is something women tend to worry about and go to their doctors to get checked regularly when they are older. Although breast cancer in younger women is rare, it should still be a concern and women of all ages should become familiar with their body.

Feel the boobies

Leigh Hurst, the founder of Feel Your Boobies Foundation, found a lump in her breast that the doctors didn’t detect. Two years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40.

“Getting in touch with your breasts is the best way to be proactive.  Even though it’s unlikely that you’ll get breast cancer in your 20’s, it does happen, and your risk only increases with age,” Hurst said. “So getting to know how your breasts feel is important so that you are aware if a breast lump or other change occurs and can bring it immediately to a doctor’s attention.”

When Leigh was diagnosed, she realized that developing breast cancer is a risk for anyone – before she was diagnosed she was a devoted runner and a triathlete and had no family history of breast cancer.

Leigh, being a health conscious person, had not thought much about breast cancer and came to the conclusion that the message wasn’t out there enough for young women. So she created the Feel Your Boobies Foundation.

“’Feel Your Boobies’ may seem simply like a fun and provocative slogan, but it’s really our way of asking ‘Are You Doing It?’®,” Leigh said. “Well, are you?”

Many people laugh when they see the “Feel Your Boobies” stickers around or shirts that say “Boobies (feel yours).”

“Our goal is to remind young women to get in touch with their bodies,” Leigh said.  “We believe that our proactive reminder, ‘feel your boobies’, gets through to young women in a way that traditional messages do not.”

Feel Your Boobies is making lots of headway with over two million followers on Facebook and they are also one of the Top 30 largest Causes.

“Getting to know how your breasts feel is important so that you are aware if a breast lump or other change occurs and can bring it immediately to a doctor’s attention,” Leigh said. “Early detection is so important in ensuring survival of breast cancer, since the disease itself cannot be prevented.”

Breast cancer is close to the heart

Chelsea Stanely, a junior at University of Iowa is all too familiar with breast cancer.

“I am worried about getting breast cancer because it runs in my family,” Chelsea said. “4 out of 5 of my mom/her sisters have had it. My mom and one aunt have had it twice. My mom and my aunt that have had it twice, both had double mastectomies to try to prevent it from coming back a third time.”

Chelsea usually does self-exams in the shower once a week, which is a typical spot for women to check, and times it with her menstrual cycle. Also, OBGYNs usually check for you on the annual check-up.

It scares Chelsea that younger women are getting diagnosed because it runs in her family.

“To be proactive, I do the self exams usually every month, to detect any changes or abnormalities, have to doctor do an exam, and get checked out if something doesn’t seem normal,” Chelsea said.

Chelsea helps pass out the Feel Your Boobies stickers around and it helps remind her.

“Telling other people and making other aware is also a good way for me to remember; how can I forget if I’m reminding others?”

Kristyn Loeb, another junior, doesn’t have breast cancer lurking in the corners of her family’s past.

“I’m not really concerned with breast cancer because I don’t ever really think about it, which I probably should do,” Kirstyn said. “Since no one in my family has ever had it then I don’t really worry about it.”

Just because younger women are getting diagnosed, doesn’t mean everyone should worry. But exams and check ups are still a good idea.

“It doesn’t scare me, I think it’s good that women are being diagnosed [and catching it],” Kirstyn said. I have donated money for breast cancer funds and try to do whatever I can to help.”

Kristyn says she doesn’t really know how to do self-breast exams, and that is probably something that is harming women – the lack of knowledge.

Something that may help women is doing some research on it and putting up fun, friendly reminders to check yourself.

“Putting something in my room to help remind me to regularly do self exams would be helpful,” Kristyn said. “Something I see every time I come out of the shower, for instance. Also, if my friends are concerned about being proactive and checking themselves then we can try to remind each other whenever we can.”

What YOU can do

Monthly breast self breast exams are the best way to catch early signs. No one knows your body better than yourself, and as Leigh found out, the doctors may not catch it.

Talk to your doctor if you don’t know how to do a self-exam and your doctor can tell you what to be checking for during your exam.

Symptoms can be a small pea-sized lump or mass, discharge, marble-like hardened area under the skin, a change of appearance or feel, and/or redness of the skin or nipple area.

This doesn’t just affect women. Men can remind their friends, girlfriends/wives, and relatives to feel their boobies and go get mammograms. The earlier it is caught, the better chance there is to overcoming it.

Also, a small percentage of men can get breast cancer. Men’s most common symptom is Gynecomastia, which is an increase in the amount of breast tissue.

Check out Feel Your Boobies Foundation’s page and all the testimonials of women who did it http://www.feelyourboobies.com/ididit.htm.

So make sure to feel your boobies. Laugh about it, but then seriously do it.

Despite high emotions, Hyperion tar sands refinery far from realized in South Dakota


Elk Point Sign

Tiny Elk Point, SD is the site of a cross-state dispute over an oil refinery that may not be built for years, if at all. (Photo courtesy of The City of Elk Point, SD.)

A controversial tar sands oil refinery near Iowa border may never be built after all.

By JIM MALEWITZ

Elk Point was never in the spotlight before. But for three years, this quiet South Dakota town of just 750 families and a handful of restaurants has become the focal point in a dispute over a proposed 400,000 barrel-a-day tar sands oil refinery. It would be the first built the United States since 1976.

Proposed by Dallas-based Hyperion LLC, the refinery has spurred an ideological clash between those hoping to add jobs to a still stagnant economy and those concerned about the health of the near pristine environment of this town, just 15 miles Southwest of Sioux City, and its nearby national parks and recreation areas.

Tar sands is an extra dark, heavy oil that researchers like Scott Spak, at the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, call “absolutely filthy.”

Hyperion has said the refinery will use new technology that will limit emissions.

Disagreements over the proposal haven’t been confined to Elk Point or surrounding Union County, where 58 percent of voters approved a zoning ordinance that set aside 3,292 acres of land for the Hyperion refinery. Bickering over the refinery has crept across the border into Iowa and into the rhetoric of lawmakers, and was heightened by the recent midterm elections.

But a review of documents on Hyperion’s permitting process show that the refinery likely won’t be built for years, if at all. Since announcing Elk Point as a finalist for the refinery in June 2007, Hyperion has received just one of seven major permits required for its operation, and even that permit is tenuous.

“I see this as a long, drawn-out process,” said Richard Leopold, former director of the Iowa Department of natural resources, who left in August for a job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.

South Dakota issue creeps into Iowa

In July 2010, Leopold sent a letter to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Projection agency requesting that the state force Hyperion to submit an Environmental Impact Statement, which would detail the refinery’s future effects on air and water quality and native species of South Dakota and Iowa.

Richard Leopold

Richard Leopold

That letter brought the Hyperion issue into Iowa’s political discourse, leading Iowa House Minority leader Ken Paulson, R-Hiawatha, to ask Gov. Chet Culver to order Leopold to “stand down and stop preventing new jobs for Iowans.”

Culver and Terry Branstad, his Republican challenger this election season, have since traded jabs over the issue.  At a town hall meeting in Ames, Branstad accused the DNR of working against the state’s economic interests, while a spokesman for Culver accused his opponent of disregarding the health of the environment.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, whose district includes the border with South Dakota, told the Iowa Independent that there is not proof that the refinery would have a negative impact on the environment.

Searching for proof of “greenness”

Spak would like to see some proof too – that the refinery “will rank among the cleanest, most environmentally-friendly in the world,” as Hyperion touts on its website.

But while Leopold dismisses a “green” oil refinery as oxymoronic “like jumbo shrimp,” Spak, an expert on the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, said that it is possible that Hyperion’s new technology could trump today’s best technology. “But we have to see it.”

“Without an environmental impact statement, we don’t know how this will be different,” Spak said.

Scott Spak

Scott Spak

Hyperion has never built an oil refinery. And as it slogs through the permitting process, researchers would like to see information that could help understand what effect the refinery would have on the environment.

To Spak, even the paperwork Hyperion submitted to get its lone permit– an air quality permit issued in August 2008 – doesn’t answer many of his questions. The data only predicted the effect of emissions on air visibility for average days, choosing not to model outcomes in worst case scenarios.

Spak said Hyperion’s methodology would not have passed muster in other states but South Dakota, a state inexperienced in such matters, is the ultimate arbiter in this case.

“Every state is responsible for choosing exactly how to evaluate new large emissions sources that affect air and water quality, but South Dakota does not have the history and established protocols for evaluating these permit applications that states like Iowa and Wisconsin do,” he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency also took issue Hyperion’s paperwork, as detailed in a letter it sent to the South Dakota DENR in November of 2008. The DENR rejected the criticism and still granted Hyperion the permit.

But time’s passage now threatens no nullify the permit, which requires Hyperion to start building next February – something the company is not prepared to do.

Hyperion has filed a pending application with the state Department of Energy and Natural Resources to extend the deadline. If denied, the company would have to start the process again from scratch, said Kyrik Rombaugh, natural resources engineer at the DENR.

Further complicating the process, Hyperion now must now submit more data to show compliance with new federal greenhouse gas emission standards that will take effect on January 2, 2011, he said.

“[Hyperion’s] timing is off,” said Spak. “This is something they don’t have experience with because nobody has obtained permits for this kind of plant in the U.S. under today’s environmental regulations.”

Eric Williams, spokesman for Hyperion, called questions about timeline mere “speculation,” and said the company still plans on breaking ground in the later half of 2011 and becoming operational by 2015.

“We laid out a methodical approach to obtaining the necessary permits, and continue to proceed according to our plan,” he wrote in an email.

Williams did not address more specific questions on Hyperion’s timeline, and the South Dakota DENR doesn’t have that information either.

“We can’t really act without the paperwork,” said Kim Smith, its spokesperson.

This article is part of a series about new ecological technologies in Iowa. Read more:

The FDA Ponders Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon— Locals are Skeptical

U.S. consumers could be soon be shopping at their local grocery stores, purchasing a fish which was created in a test tube.

AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company is seeking FDA certification for one of their products—AquAdvantage® Salmon—a genetically engineered, or transgenic, Atlantic Salmon.

Before a decision can be made on the application,  the FDA is required to meet certain requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), said Shannon Cameron, a Health Communications Specialist for FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. There requirements include a finding of no significant impact, FONSI, on the environment and a preliminary decision by the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee, along with other public agencies.

“There is no timeline on a decision on the application,” Cameron wrote in an e-mail. “The FDA will first look at all the comments submitted by the public, as well as the suggestions from the panel.”

The FDA met with the VMAC in Maryland to discuss its concerns, the first step in the process towards approval.

“These processes take a lot of time and effort,” said James McKean, VMAC member, panelist, and a professor in Veterinarians Diagnostic & Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University.

The VMAC advised the FDA to ensure that the gene construction is safe and to do additional work on the commercial basis, McKean said.

Aside from those recommendations, McKean said, the genetically engineered salmon does not appear to be as dangerous as some may think.

“There’s no worry about allergies and no detrimental effects and changes on the meat,” he said. “From a human standpoint there did not seem to be an irregularity.”

One local Store is Already Saying “No,”— Others Want More Information

Even though it has yet to be determined if these “un-natural” fishes will flip their way into local stores— the possibility is being discussed.

“We would not purchase it,” said Chuck Hansen, a meat cutter at the Iowa City New Pioneer Co-op, 22 S. Van Buren St. “Even if the FDA approved it, we wouldn’t.”

The New Pioneer Co-OP, 22 South Van Buren St., purchases fish based on the rankings of the Marine Stewardship Council, MFC. Hansen said most likely the genetically-engineered salmon would be placed on the “void” list.

University of Iowa dining halls, Anne Harkins, the manager of the Burge Marketplace, said they have not discussed if they would purchase the fish, but will if the FDA approves it.

“I think we’d definitely want to discuss it, I know I’d want to know a lot more before I was comfortable offering to customers,” Harkins said.

As for the iconic Iowa-based grocery store, Hy-Vee, they, too, are still unsure.

“Hy-Vee does not have a position on genetically modified salmon at this time. If and when the FDA approves the product for retail sale, we will examine all the information available and determine whether or not to carry it,” said Ruth Comer, Assistant Vice President, Media Relations.

If We Already Eat Genetically Modified Food, What’s Wrong With It Being Salmon?

Despite hesitation from local stores, those who study food ethics and are immersed in the culture have other thoughts.

During the meeting with the VMAC, one concern raised was the issue of labeling.

“Should salmon be labeled or not? We’re already eating genetically produced food. The meat we eat is industrialized meat. Cows are raised on corn, genetically engineered corn,” said UI professor Lauren Rabinovitz who also serves on the UI Food Studies Advisory Board.

The genetically engineered salmon grows more rapidly, allowing it to go to the market faster than wild fish. Essentially, putting more fish on the market faster.

“It’s one tool that food industrialists use to try to adapt producing food so that they can make things quicker, cheaper, and can get more product more quickly,” she said.

Todd Hinegardner, co-owner of Iowa Northstar Fish Hatchery in Montour, Iowa, raises various fish— not including salmon— in his aqua culture ponds and lakes. While his fish aren’t specifically sold for food, he said he wouldn’t mind seeing AquAdvantage® Salmon in stores.

Hinegardner’s only concern, he said, would be if these genetically engineered fish were being placed in natural bodies of water.

“If they are taking these fish and putting them in our lakes and rivers, I would not be in favor of it,” Hinegardner said.

The weight of what could be a historical decision for food consumers nationwide depends on the FDA. However, Rabinovitz said, consumers should be skeptical of the role that the FDA plays as a whole, when it comes to food safety— genetically engineered or not.

When referring to the recent egg recall in Iowa, she asked— “Where was the FDA and why weren’t they enforcing checks?” Rabinovitz mentioned swirling rumors that said farmers were paying FDA officials to look the other way.

“With our whole food supply, there is a lot to be worried about,” Rabinovitz said.

Tailgating gone wild in Iowa City

 

 

Kinnick Stadium parking lot. ~Photo by Robbie Lehman

University and City officials look to rebuild what has become a rocky relationship with Hawkeye football fans.

By Robbie Lehman

Making changes

On August 16, the University of Iowa, working alongside Iowa City Police, launched the “Think Before You Drink” campaign, a “new initiative aimed at making the game-day experience exciting and safe for all fans,” which outlined several new rule changes in regards to tailgating.

However, university officials tweaked the original policy changes after receiving negative feedback from fans following the first home game.

The most prominent problems with tailgating involve alcohol—underage students consuming it, violent behavior from fans and people driving under the influence after games.

“Our fans are the nation’s best—they are enthusiastic and respectful of others,” Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said in the August 16 news release. “Many of our fans consume alcohol on game days, and they do so responsibly. However, a small minority drink too much and cause problems for themselves and others. To those folks, we say, ‘Please think before you drink. Don’t put a black eye on the black and gold.’”

University Spokesman Tom Moore said President Mason personally received at least 50 emails from upset students, fans and Iowa City residents in response to the weekend of September 4, in which Iowa opened the 2010 season against Eastern Illinois with a 37-7 win.

A total of 146 citations were handed out by Iowa City Police that day.

Due to backlash, university officials sent a September 9 news release that altered the tailgating policy for the second time. Postgame alcohol consumption was increased to two hours in university areas, while all postgame tailgating activities must cease three hours after game’s end.

Reasons behind the changes

Officials said the initial review of tailgating and the game day atmosphere really began after the 2009 football season, which was scattered with numerous incidents involving alcohol.

The Hawkeyes made a historic run a year ago, beginning the season 9-0 for the first time ever. With that naturally came increased excitement among Iowa fans, but also increased the number of problems related to irresponsible tailgating by students and adults.

UI officials wanted to make the tailgating policy change before the 2010 season, which boasted a highly anticipated home schedule that included a rivalry game against Iowa State, plus marquee matchups with traditional Big-Ten Conference powerhouses Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Jim Swift, an Iowa football letterman from 1976-79, has parked in the Kinnick Stadium lot for five years. He said the new policies seemed a little excessive.

“I understand what they’re after, obviously they don’t want people drinking and driving, which is fine, nobody wants people drinking and driving,” Swift said. “But it’s kind of like the society as a whole today. We create all these rules that apply to just a few people that penalize all the people.”

Swift, who was an honorary captain for the Sept. 11 game against Iowa State, drives to Hawkeye games from Des Moines and said he enjoys hanging around after games with friends and family, whether consuming alcohol or not.

“I think the university and the city of Iowa City could have made a more gradual shift away from their current policies that evolved over a period of time to really just flipping the switch off against having that social atmosphere,” said Swift, who pays just under $10,000 per season to park in the Kinnick Stadium lot.

Related issues

Another topic that relates to the problems with tailgating is the Iowa City City Council’s passage of a law which prohibits citizens under the age of 21 to be in a drinking establishment past 10 p.m. In the past, persons above 19 could enter bars. On November 2, the city voted to uphold the 21-only-law for the next two years but a 52/48 percent margin.

Lone Tree, Iowa native and 22-year-old student Mike Close understands the crackdown on enforcing alcohol policies during tailgating.

“I think since the bars aren’t 19 anymore, that’s where a lot of the kids think they can get away with partying. So cops and the university want to step it up to prove that they’re on it no matter what.”

The tailgating policy changes comes at a time when the city of Iowa City and the University of Iowa are both looking to clean up their respective images, which have stereotypes of high underage and binge drinking.

But these aren’t just stereotypes, however—a survey by the Princeton Review ranked the University of Iowa as the No. 9 Top American Party Schools for 2010-11.

Barta seemed to agree with Swift in a statement from the September 9 news release, and he acknowledged that the original policy changes were a bit over the top.

“We know that 95 percent of fans attending Hawkeye games act responsibly,” Barta said. “And we greatly appreciate that… We made some mistakes last Saturday. I’m grateful the university as a group rolled up our collective sleeves and worked hard to make adjustments and improvements leading into this Saturday.

“We’ll need everyone’s help to try to achieve these goals.”

The future of tailgating

Tom Rocklin, vice president for student services, said the main objective of either policy change is safety.

“The University of Iowa is not interested in prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on game days,” Rocklin said. “However, we are firmly committed to doing what we can to prevent unsafe and illegal consumption because that contributes to a positive experience for everyone.”

The university has not released any information regarding tailgating since the statement on September 8. The public has also demonstrated a somewhat positive reaction to the one-hour tailgating extension.

For the time being, the future of Iowa tailgating seems relatively safe.

Textbook Cost a Growing Concern

By Sean Malone

Outside of the Philip D. Adler Journalism and Mass Communication Building, senior English Studies major Chris Cook cracks a wry smile when asked what was the most he’d ever had to pay for textbooks for a single semester.  “The most that I’ve spent on textbooks is approximately $430.  This semester, it’s was $330.”  While, this may seem like a steep price for textbooks for those who haven’t had to purchases any, either ever or recently, it’s actually slightly less than the national average.

According to the non-profit Public Interest Research Group, the national average for textbooks in a four year university for 2009-2010 was $1,122 for a full time student per year.  According to the University of Iowa Department of Admissions web site, the average cost of textbooks and supplies for an undergraduate is $1090.  As tuition and textbook costs continue to rise at levels much higher then the level of inflation, many students and their families question how they will be able to afford the costs of a secondary education.  In a July, 2005 report to Congress by the General Accounting Office investigating concerns over textbook pricing practices, the prospects for financial relief for students does not appear to be coming any time soon.

“Since December of 1986, textbook prices have nearly tripled, increasing by 186 percent, while tuition and fees increased by 240 percent and overall prices grew by 72 percent.” according to the GAO report.  There is no one particular issue that can be singled out as to the reason for the costly increase in textbooks however there may be a few factors worth examining.  These are the costs to the publishers, the frequency of revisions and the increased use of supplemental materials that are bundled together along with the text itself.

Sean Harty a Senior majoring in Chemistry with an Integrative Physiology Minor has been feeling the pinch of these increases due to the higher costs associated with science textbooks.  “The most I’ve ever spent?  I would say that I have spent at least $2,000.  This semester I am only taking one chemistry lab and I wasn’t required to purchase a book.  However, in the past, I would say that one full year in school, strictly for chemistry ran me $400.  The most I’ve spent on a book was for Analytical Chemistry I and that was $250”.

Publishers always dictate the price that the bookstores have to pay for the textbook.  They, as any business has to do, look at the costs for research and development, projected sales, production and what their competitors are charging for similar textbooks.  According to the report, the upfront costs to publishers can be substantial and include “cost of author advances, the development of content for the textbook and supplements, copyrights and permissions for illustrations and photographs, along with the costs of typesetting and printing enough copies to provide sample copies and cover expected sales.”

A trend that had been noticed in the G.A.O. report that would seem to raise concerns for universities, their students, and faculty would be the amount of time between revisions of textbooks.  The frequency of revisions adversely affects the amount of used textbooks available and thus the student’s ability to find used textbooks at discounted rates.  As well, the potential for student’s to sell their textbooks back at the end of the semester for any amount of money is put into jeopardy.  “Publishers agreed that the revision cycle for many books has accelerated over time, but most said that it has been stable in recent years. While textbook revision cycles can vary based on several factors, such as the level of the course and the discipline, publishers told us that textbooks are generally revised every 3 to 4 years, compared with cycles of 4 to 5 years that were standard 10 to 20 years ago.”

The bundling of textbooks and supplemental materials is one of the major reasons that publishers are citing for the dramatic increase in the costs of textbook production.  The use of additional companion web sites and computer programs that are used in conjunction with the physical textbook add to the cost of production according to the publishers.  In many cases, there is much of the course work that needs to be completed online, thereby freeing teaching assistants and professors from grading actual papers.  The downside to this would appear to be that even if a student can buy a less expensive textbook, they often still have to pay the publisher for an individual access code for the online materials which is almost the same amount that it would have cost them to buy the bundle.

This alternative pricing set by publishers may be in response to an act of Congress.  HR 4137, or The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 which went into effect on July, 1 of this year dictates that universities are required to post the required course materials, with retail prices for all classes listed in online course schedules.  Publishers are also now required to sell textbooks, supplementary materials and CD’s individually rather than in bundles.

While this act of Congress does attempt to address some of the issues facing students, faculty and universities, it is most likely not a cure all for a constantly changing industry.  With more and more universities and their instructors begin to post readings and materials on-line, the ability for students to purchase textbooks from on-line distributors and e-books as alternatives to the university bookstore, the possibility for a stabilization of textbook prices may be on the horizon.

(All Images Courtesy of Getty Images)

Many Iowa City Restaurants Discover the Benefits of Serving Locally Grown Food

Eating locally grown food has many benefits on your health, your food quality, your community and on the environment. Many Iowa City food establishments are choosing use locally grown food from family farms, food co-ops and farmer’s markets for these reasons.

Restaurants see using locally grown food as an effort to support farmers and growers in the area, an opportunity to achieve the freshest and most flavorful taste, a way to reduce their carbon footprint and a chance to create a sense of community through meals.

Many local Iowa City restaurants are choosing to take this approach when purchasing the produce that they serve at their businesses. Local restaurants that have taken this approach include Devotay, The Red Avocado, Atlas, Chef’s Table, Givanni’s, Leaf Kitchen, Montley Cow Café, Oasis Falafel, One Twenty Six, Hearth, Share, and The Wedge Pizzeria.

Buying locally supports the area’s farmers and growers and strengthens the community.  According to the Johnson County Local Food Alliance (JCLFA), supporting local businesses stimulates the social and economic.  When you purchase products locally, you keep money and other resources close to home.  Buying food from your local farmers essentially helps build your community.  Supporting small scale producers also helps them to receive fair working conditions and pay for their employees and allows them to keep producing foods in a clean, safe way.

According to Blooming Foods, corporate agribusiness is increasing, causing independent farmers to earn lower incomes every year. Large corporations do not contribute financially to their communities as much as small scale farm.

In addition to helping the local economy, locally grown produce is fresher than imported foods and is typically more flavorful.  Most locally grown food is also organic and cleaner since it is not mass produced.

Unlike imported foods, locally grown fruits and vegetables are actually bed for freshness and taste.  Foods grown locally are generally safer and healthier because they have not been exposed to hormones, pesticides, antibiotics or other harmful chemicals.

Devotay chef and owner Kurt Michael Friese restaurant started as selling food at the local farmer’s markets so he feels like he should support the small scale growers.  Local produce also is fresher and cleaner.  “I want a world where everyone can enjoy real food.  And by real food I mean there isn’t anything else in it besides food.”

Local farmer, Mike Stutsman of Dirty Face Creek Farm chooses to be organic because “I think it’s a lot better for us and for the world.”

The JCLFA is an advocate of buying local food because it is fresher since it does not have to be transported from a far location. Food that has to be transported long distances also uses more non-renewable resources, fossil fuels and chemicals, making locally grown food the environmentally sound alternative.

The majority of imported food have to be altered to prolong shelf life and are grown to withstand industrial harvesting and extended travel time.  According to Sustainable Table, a typical carrot has to travel 1838 miles to reach your dinner table.

“Essentially it doesn’t make sense to buy tomatoes from Florida when we can grow them here instead,” said Stutsman.

In addition to the carbon footprint caused by the transportation of imported goods, these products also need to be packaged and the packaging materials eventually need to be disposed of causing even more pollution.

President of the JCLFA, James Nisley, explains that buying locally grown food in a celebration of community.  “We share the joys of community based agriculture, where people are connected to the seasons, the land, the food and each other.”

His take on buying from local farmers is that it should be the obvious choice.

Slow Food USA and it’s local chapter, Slow Food Iowa City, are advocates of buying locally grown food as well and links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. Their website provides information on restaurants and other places you can buy locally grown produce.

Two University of Iowa students shared their opinion on the local restaurant’s food choice.

“I think it’s great,” said Senior, Kailey Clawson.  “I eat at a lot of these restaurants and can tell that the ingredients they use are really fresh.”

“It’s really cool that these restaurants are supporting the local economy,” said Junior, Jake Kundert.  “Serving good food while saving the planet is always the best choice.”

Overall, the restaurants that buy locally grown food have the right idea.  This choice not only improves the quality of the food that is served, but is cost effective and helps the community.

All photos used in this article were captured at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market and were taken by Lindsey Thompson.

Violent Video Games Under Attack

Should this be protected? Image from Valve Co.

Can violent video games be as bad as pornography?  That is what the state of California is arguing.  On November 2nd, California will get a chance to prove that argument to the Supreme Court.  The state believes that ultra-violent video games are a serious danger to children.  They say the current age and content rating system self-enforced by the video game industry is not doing enough to prevent minors from playing adult games.

If California succeeds with their case, then video games will have to go through a government rating sytsem.  Depending on the content of a particular game, the government may find it to be ultra-violent or obscene in some way.  If so, the violent game would be marked with a two-inch square label on the front of the box. This label would be similar to the Parental Advisory stickers found on music albums.  Retailers would be fined up to $1,000 dollars for each game containing the label that was sold to a minor.

Various cases about violent video games have been heard before.  Courts have always ruled in favor of video games, stating that they are protected by the First Amendment.  If California succeeds, then the way games are created and sold will be dramatically changed.

Why California believes it has a case

Some California politicians disagree with past court decisions. They believe that some games can be considered obscene.  Author of the bill and California assemblyman Leland Yee is one of these politicians.

“We’re not talking about violent video games,” Yee said in an interview with MTV News.  “We’re talking about ultra-violent video games.”

The proposed legislation singles out games whose violence causes them to

Yee is at the forefront of the attack. Image from GayGamer.

“lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.”  These games also need to contain violence that “is especially heinous, cruel or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.”

Yee argues that this bill is out of necessity.  “I would rather not do this. But enough is enough. Each year some of the stuff gets more and more outrageous,” Yee said.

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board currently reviews games and rates them based on their content.  There are  currently five different ratings the ESRB uses: EC (Early Childhood), E (Everyone), E10+ (Everyone 10 and older), T (Teen), M (Mature) and AO (Adults Only).   Many politicians, including Yee’s chief of staff Adam Keigwin, do not think the ESRB is effective enough.

“…A federal trade commission study showed that well over half the kids 14-16 years old were able to purchase ultra-violent video games,” Keigwin said in an interview with Game Informer magazine.  “The ratings system itself is flawed.  They have an AO rating – they don’t use it even though the AO description says that it’s for extreme violence.  They’ve never rated a game AO based upon violence.  So why have it?  It sends the wrong message to parents who look at an M game and say: ‘Oh, well if it was so bad it would have gotten an AO rating.’”

Why the video game industry is worried

Many big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy refuse to stock games bearing the AO label.  Video game companies rely on these stores and consciously develop their games with this in mind.  Some games, like Manhut 2, have had to alter their content before being released to avoid the adult only rating.  Manhunt 2 was released in 2007 and featured executions the player could perform on in-game enemies.  The game was rated AO and delayed at the last minute so the game could be made less violent and rerated with an M.  To do this, the game blurred the brutal execution scenes.

Some video game developers believe that if California succeeds on November 2nd, they will have to tailor their games even further.  They are worried about losing creative liberty when making games.  Among these believers is Ted Price.  Price is the founder of Insomniac Games, a highly successful video game development studio.  Insomniac has made games such as Ratchet and Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man and Spyro the Dragon.

Price is worried about having to compromise his games. Image from Kotaku.

“As content creators, if there is a chance that our games will appear in an “Adults Only” section of game stores, we will have to restrict what we create to avoid going out of business. To me such a situation is tantamount to government censorship,” Price stated via his blog.  “If this law is upheld it could have a ripple effect across all other forms of media. Those who have sought to censor films, television, books, talk radio, and music will now have precedent to renew their fight against freedom of expression. In other words, this case is a very, very big deal.”

A local perspective

In Iowa City, an employee from a local video game store is very opposed to the California legislation.  However, he wishes his name and place of employment to remain anonymous.

“We’ll sell Grand Theft Auto IV to a 4-year-old because it’s not against the law,” the employee said.  “Parents are the ones who need to be responsible for their kids, not us.”

The employee states that he often saw children come into the store alone, using their parents money to buy games.  Parents had even come up to the employee telling him that if their child ever wanted a Mature rated game, it would be ok to sell it to them.

“Video games don’t turn their kids into violent murderers.  Parents’ kids are probably going to be murderers for some other reason,” the employee said.

Reverend Fitzpatrick believes video games "depersonalize" violence. Image from Iowa City Newman Center.

Reverend Edward Fitzpatrick believes that video games tend to legitimize violence.  Reverend Fitzpatrick is the Director of the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City.

“Violent video games isolate you from the effect of your actions,” Reverend Fitzpatrick said.  “It makes violence seem ok.  It depersonalizes it.”

The pastor believes that it is the interactive nature of video games that makes them so influential on a child’s mind.

“Being allowed to shoot people without the fear of actually being shot back conditions kids to think that they can do this.  They have trouble separating reality from fantasy,” Reverend Fitzpatrick said.

Jayson Gegner, a graduate from the University of Iowa and former online writer for Total Gaming Network, is angry that the government is singling out video games.  He believes kids will find similarly harmful content in other media.

“This goes way past your local Best Buy electronics section.  Parents need to simply be aware of what their kids are doing.  This isn’t just with video games, kids can turn on the television and see something just as violent, if not worse,” Gegner said.

What do you think?

What happens on November 2nd could change video games forever.  Is California’s legislation an encroachment on the First Amendment?  Should the government be allowed to mandate what games are appropriate for children?  The slideshow below shows some examples of the ultra-violent games California politicians are talking about.  No matter how the Supreme Court rules, the video game industry is in for a big event on November 2nd.

The Trial of Dr. Toshiki Itoh

itohAssistant professor Toshiki Itoh, 47, of the UI pathology department went to trial this week for one charge of sexual assault in the third degree and two counts of physical assault causing bodily injury against his female lab assistant. Itoh has pled not guilty. He has been on paid administrative leave for the last two years with a salary of $93,000, according to Tom Moore, UI Media Relations Coordinator. His attorney, Patricia C. Kamath, has declined comment.

The lab assistant said that Itoh had beaten and sexually assaulted her for the last year and a half, according to the UI police report. Two particular incidents prompted her call on July 10, 2008. She claimed that Itoh beat her on July 8 when she reported the misuse of a lab microscope. She missed work on July 9 because of her injuries and when she reported to work on July 10, Itoh repeatedly punched her in the face with a closed fist for being absent the previous day. She also alleged that Itoh had been sexually assaulting her since January 1, 2007.

Itoh got his M.D and P.hD at Kumamoto University School of Medicine in Japan. He moved to California on a green card in 1999, where he did research at UC Berkeley until 2005, when he moved to Iowa City. Since then, he’s done research in the pathology department as an assistant professor. His name is still listed on the UI directory, his webpage still up with no indication of his leave status.

The trial began on Monday with jury selection. Since then the court has reconvened every day at 9am this week, with each gathering lasting until 4:30 in the afternoon.

Confession

Dr. Toshiki Itoh admitted he assaulted his female lab assistant during an audio-recorded police interview, a portion of which was played in court on Wednesday morning.

The interview that Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Beglin played in court was conducted on July 10 2008 in a med lab at the UI pathology department. UI police detectives Brian Meyer and Terry Bringman testified that they asked Itoh questions about whether or not he had physically assaulted his lab assistant.

“That actually [inaudible] and then actually that, I hit her several times, I told you,” Itoh replied to Meyer and Bringman in broken English.

Itoh is a Japanese foreign national who has moderate English comprehension, according to court documents. An interpreter appointed by the UI provost’s office was present during that interview so as to avoid language difficulties. But detectives Meyer and Bringman recalled in their testimony that Itoh rarely referred to the interpreter, and did not seem to need help answering their questions.

“We felt that he understood everything,” Bringman testified.

In another interview that took place on July 15 at the UI police department, Itoh again admitted to physically assaulting his lab assistant.

“He admitted to hitting her several times, breaking her glasses,” Bringman said, referring to the assault that occurred on July 8, “He demonstrated whacking her. Hitting her. I believe at one point he threw her into a wall.”

The lab assistant speaks

At approximately 2:10pm on Wednesday, Beglin called the alleged victim to the stand. She arrived in the courtroom, eyes wide, her nervous breathing audible over the microphone. After a brief conference with the judge and her interpreter, her testimony began.

The lab assistant, who is a Japanese foreign national in the U.S. on a visa, described her duties as Itoh’s lab assistant from 2006 to 2008.

In broken English, she said that Itoh made her work long hours, sometimes more than 40 hours a week, into the night, and through the weekend. During her time of employment in his lab, she had virtually no social life outside of work, saying that she simply had too much work to do. Itoh threatened to fire her on several occasions, and was often critical of her work. He would sometimes express himself in a normal tone of voice, but according to the lab assistant, would more often yell at her. Sometimes he would respond with violence.

“Sometimes he slap. Sometimes he hit my face. Sometimes he kick me,” the alleged vicitm said in court on Wednesday.

Itoh’s jaws were clenched while the alleged victim made these statements, and he would occasionally lean forward in his chair over a yellow legal pad, rapidly taking down notes.

July 8 2008

The lab assistant then described in vivid detail the assault that occurred on July 8. She claimed that Itoh struck her in the face after she reported the misuse of a lab microscope by a fellow employee.

The alleged victim claimed that before he hit her, Itoh said, “ You are not a good employee. You have no right to criticize.”

He then punched her in the face several times, the alleged victim said. She raised her hands to try to protect her face, but he managed to break her glasses, the lab assistant said.

“He used fist, not open hand,” she said.

After the physical assault, Itoh left the lab and went into his adjacent office.  She followed him into his office, where Itoh sexually assaulted her, the lab assistant testified.

“He put his hand under my shirt and brassiere and touched my breasts,” the lab assistant said.

Itoh left the office shortly after that, and she went home with a severe headache. She came into work in the morning the next day to help a student assistant with daily duties, but went home shortly after that to recover from her injuries.  She did not return to work until July 10.

July 10 2008

The lab assistant arrived at work on July 10 and began work on an ongoing experiment, she testified. Itoh arrived at the lab later, and began to hit her with his closed hand.

“Your attitude is ridiculous,” is what the lab assistant testified Itoh said to her on that occasion.

She left the lab and fled to med lab 1022, where she called the UI police on a non-emergency number.

“I didn’t want to disturb anyone,” she said.

Up to this point, she had not told anyone about the repeated instances of sexual and physical assault. She testified that she didn’t want to put her friends in a difficult situation and she was concerned at how her family would react to the news. She also didn’t want to lose her job.

The lab assistant is working in the states on an H1-b visa. According to her, the visa requires that she remain employed in a specific professional field during the duration of her stay in the states. Itoh was the sponsor of her visa, according to the testimony of University Healthcare physician Mark Graber on Tuesday.

So when Beglin asked the lab assistant why she didn’t contact the university sooner, she replied, “I chose police because I didn’t trust the university.”

She went on to say that the university invests a lot of money in professors and she was worried that she would lose her job.

“University doesn’t want to fire the professor. University wants to fire the employee,” she said, “Even now I don’t want to report to the university.”

IowaWatch.org contacted UI Media Relations Spokesperson Tom Moore at his home Wednesday night for a comment on these last remarks. Moore declined comment.

 

 

University of Iowa Looks to Restore Landmark IMU With Help from FEMA

By: Wiley Schatz

The Iowa Memorial Union at the University of Iowa used to be described as the “center of student life.”  Since the Iowa Flood of 2008 however, that has not been the case.  After a devastating flood, the Iowa Memorial Union has had to have many of its features removed, resulting in a large drop in its appeal to students.

The University of Iowa Student Government though along with other university groups, hopes to change that by restoring the Iowa Memorial Union to what it once was and more.

“My freshman year was the year before the flood, and the IMU was the heart of student life,” says President of University of Iowa Student Government John Rigby.  “Students used it to study, eat, even to take naps… we’re really trying to get people to know that it is available and what a good recourse it can be for students.”

We Can Rebuild It

In order to attract more students to the IMU, University of Iowa Student Government has a few ideas they are working on.

“The most important thing for us trying to revamp the IMU and bring it back to the pre-flood level would be the 24 hour availability of it to all students,” says University of Iowa Student Government President John Rigby.  “I think for a long time this campus this campus has lacked that 24 hour building that is accessible to anyone.”

Outside The Iowa Memorial Union, Photo from: flicker.com/iowanews

In fact, the University of Iowa is one of the few Big-10 schools that currently do not have a building on campus open 24 hours every day to all students.  “There will always be a set of doors open along with not all of the building open but most of it, there is an ITC that’s available and plenty of open study space, great for both group and individual studiers.”

Round the clock availability is only part of the plan that to revitalize the IMU.  Making the bottom floor accessible for students again is essential to the buildings restoration.

“That area was kind of the ‘main street’ for the building,” says Associate Vice President and Dean of Students David Grady who has been visiting other Big-10 campuses in order to look at what other student unions offer, “we had about 12,000 people through the building every day before the flood and that was the buisiest area.”

“This Spring hopefully we can get the ball rolling on some of the plans that IMU services has,” says Rigby, “the lower level is going to be complexly redone with a bowling ally and just a bunch of stuff.”

A bowling ally would not be something completely new to the Iowa Memorial Union.  There actually was a bowling alley there in the 1980s, which was later taken out. After a student poll, putting a new bowling alley in the IMU was determined to be a good non-alcoholic alternative for students.

Amongst the “bunch of stuff” planned for the lower level of the IMU outside of the bowling alley, would be mainstream restaurants for students.  Jamba Juice is one the services that is being considered along with other café style food for students.

“Probably the first thing you’ll see on the ground floor is the bookstore,” says Grady, “we hope to have that back by the spring of 2012… the main thing we want to do is get educational materials in the hands of students, that’s our primary function.”

Expanded study areas are also very important, as the “Hawkeye Room” will be re-opened for students to lounge in during the day.

That’ll Cost a Pretty Penny

A project like this does not happen for free, and The University of Iowa is relying on FEMA for coming up for the majority of the funding for the Iowa Memorial Union’s restoration.  In the way of funding the Iowa Memorial Union though is funding for other buildings on campus such as Hancher Auditorium, the Voxman Music Building, and the Art museum.  Also, the university needs to prove that it wont let what happened in 2008 happen again.

The Iowa Memorial Union durring the flood of 2008, Poto from: flicker.com/iowanews

“FEMA requires you to have a plan to keep the disaster from happening again,” says Grady, “so we’ve got a mitigation plan that includes surrounding the building with a flood wall at varying heights.  Another thing we’re going to do is build a terrace outside the River Room so that people could walk outside to eat or study.  It will be a nice view that overlooks the river.”

Now that we are over two years removed from the flood, the majority of undergraduates at The University of Iowa have not experienced the Iowa Memorial Union as the central hub of student activity it once was.

“That’s one of the reasons were really pushing to get the IMU back up and functioning because it’s a critical part of students’ career,” says Grady, “ a college union is really a laboratory where you can apply what you’ve learned inside the classroom to a real life situation.”

Another reason why restoring the Iowa Memorial Union is seen as so important is because it serves to bring together students that otherwise would remain separate.

“The Union helps develop a community; if you’re in Adler or other campus buildings you’re surrounded by just people within those majors,” says Grady, “here its people from all different sides of campus… being that center of op    portunity is one of the things that’s missing.”

This will not be the first time that the Iowa Memorial Union has gone through major renovations.  In fact, this will be the sixth major renovation it has seen in its history.  Considering how many students have not experienced what the Iowa Memorial Union is all about, this might be the most important renovation of all.

Surely the IMU’s traffic will pick back up after the renovations are planned to be finished in the spring of 2013.