Archive for the ‘Contributors’ Category

Filling the Gap

By: Wiley Schatz

The Student Government at The University of Iowa has been putting much of their effort into increasing the student body’s awareness of their activities.  With the 21 ordinance being passed, students feel that student life has been affected more this year than it has in a long time and Student Government has been very vocal about the issue in order to

UISG President John Rigby, Photo from:

“We have tried to be a presence during the whole 21 ordinance,” Says University of Iowa Student Government President John Rigby, “letting them know we were here for them.  In past years when the issue came up it seemed like UISG stayed out of it and by putting our name in there we put our organization into a lot of students minds.  Increasing our visibility to the students is something that has been very important for us since we have been in office”

Yet with the efforts of the current UISG administration, many students still feel a disconnect between Student Government and the student body.

“I have never really known anything about Student Government,” says Mac Flack, a junior Environmental Studies major, “They don’t really seem to make an effort to inform students about anything that could affect them.”

“It seems to me that the only time I ever even hear about Student Government is during Student Government Elections,” says Theater Arts major Mike Turczynski, “Its like there is one week where I vote for them and then don’t really ever hear about what it is they actually do.”

Student Government has taken many small actions that they feel previous administrations have failed to do.

“We have tried to keep our website as up to date as possible,” says Rigby, “letting the student know who we are and what we are working on.  Also, we have been working with the Daily Iowan; they wrote an article on us and our stance on the 21 ordinance, which his helpful for outreach.  We have been sending out a lot more mass emails in the past couple moths than in years past, which is in my mind the most effective way to reach people.”

Something else that Student Government aims to do in order to grab students attention is try to make themselves aware to freshmen as soon come as come to the school by being part of the effort to enhance Freshman Orientation.

“Orientation will be changing next year,” says Rigby, “Its called ‘On Iowa’ and it will require students to move in a couple of days early and help them get used the campus and entire college experience, not just registering for classes like it has been.”

“Ideally Student would use that period to get a time where we can come talk to the students,” says Student Government Vice President Erica Hays, “introduce ourselves and let them know that we are there.  That could alleviate some of the gap between Student Government and the student body.”

UISG Vice President Erica Hayes, Photo from

Another idea that Student Government has been trying to make happen is making an entire week’s wroth of UISG related activities.

“We’ve been discussing for next semester,” says Hays, “having a Student Government Week to step out there and show the different sides and parts of Student Government.  We are still not sure how appropriate that would be but it is something our Executive branch is working on.”

“We have been fairly conservative with our budget spending,” says Rigby, “so something that you can expect from us next semester is to maybe introduce some kind of fun initiatives to get students’ attention.  One thing we have talked about is doing something like the Pan-Hellenic group does when they give prizes to someone if they are wearing a sorority shirt.  I don’t know how we could incorporate that into Student Government, but it could be something to help get the word out on what we do.”

With only a few more moths left in their term Student Government still has hopes to further assert themselves in the student body’s awareness by flirting with the idea of weekly or monthly newsletters and online forums all in the name of building a bridge between the Student government and those they are serving”

“With the ordinance and everything that has gone on,” says Rigby, “I know some students are looking for a leader to turn to and hopefully they can see that in us.”


Food Co-Ops

One way to support local farms is to shop at a food co-op.  A food co-op is a grocery store that is generally run and owned by it’s members in the community.  These stores typically offer natural or organic food choices and sell locally grown and locally manufactured items.  According to the International Co-operative Alliance, co-ops have seven principles that put their values into practice.


Principles of a Co-Op

The first principle is that it has voluntary and open membership, meaning that anyone can choose to join the co-op if they are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.

The second principle is that the co-op must be under democratic member control.  Members have equal voting rights for setting policies and decision making and officials are elected.

The third principle is that members must contribute to and democratically control the capital of their co-operative.

The forth principle is that the co-op must be an autonomous, self –help organization controlled by it’s members.  Even if they join with other organizations or the government, they must maintain this autonomy.

The fifth principle is that the co-op must provide education and training for their members, elected officials, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-op.  The co-op is also responsible for informing the general public about the nature and benefits of their co-op.

The sixth principle is co-ops must work with other co-ops to strengthen each other on a local, national, regional and international level.

The seventh principle is that co-ops must have concern for their community and help development through policies approved by their members.


How does a co-op benefit a community?

According to the Cooperative Development institute, co-ops help build communities socially, economically and environmentally.

They help communities socially by helping to maintain and increase resources.  Co-ops also help build the skills of  democracy and  conflict resolution throughout the population.

Communities benefit economically from co-ops because they help to keep money and resources in the area.  Jobs, profits and resources stay in the community longer because the co-op is controlled by community members.  When people spend more money in locally controlled businesses, like a food co-op, the money is re-circulated in the community.

Co-ops help communities economically as well.  They help members to adopt more responsible  patterns of consumption so fewer resources are used.  By using food that is grown and manufactured locally, less fuel is used to transport the goods and the food does not need chemicals to preserve it, making it healthier and more environmentally friendly.

What are the benefits of being a co-op member?

Being a co-op member has many perks and benefits.  When buying food from a co-op you know where it was grown and who grew it.  You also know that it is fresh and grown in an environmentally friendly way.  In addition to food quality, you are helping your community by becoming a member and get voting rights to decide how the store is run and who is running it.

Most co-ops charge shelf price for their products, giving you an inexpensive price.  Many offer programs allowing you to volunteer at the store in exchange for store gift cerfificates so you can save even more money on your groceries.

Iowa City’s New Pioneer Co-Op

New Pioneer Co-op is the food co-op serving Iowa City and Coralville.  It was founded in 1971 by a group of Iowa City people who desired food free of preservatives, grown on healthy soil and distributed in a way that served human need rather than greed.

The original co-op had a bulk section of grain, beans, peanut butter, honey, granola and cheese.  Working members ran the business while it began to expand in product selection and store size.

Today, the co-op is selling over a million dollars worth of locally grown food annually from over 125 area businesses.  Members pay a low cost for these foods and the money they are paying stays in the local economy.

The co-op also donates to several organizations in the community such as the United Way of Johnson County, The Crisis Center, Table to Table and Local Foods Connection.  Last year over $40,000 was donated to organizations in the community.

“By shopping at the co-op you are also supporting a living wage,” said President Sarah Walz.  “Over 80% of New Pioneer’s employees work full-time with health benefits.”  In addition to being consistent and knowledgeable, the employees and decision makers are all from the community, not a distant corporate office, so they have the Iowa City area in mind when they’re working.

Besides employees earning a living wages from the co-op, paying farmers fairly is of great value to the co-op in supporting a just society.

“Buying locally-grown, fairly traded organic products from New Pioneer Co-op is voting for a better world.  It helps the growth of a society that encourages and honors hard work, offers food that is healthy and free of toxins and pesticides and makes farming methods that do not abuse the land possible,” said Walz.


Is a Food Co-Op Right For You?

If you think that helping your community and local farmers is an important issue to you and you think becoming a co-op member is the right step for you click here to find a co-op near you.


Video Games: The Package

For my package, I wanted to weave together three different stories using the violent video game Supreme Court case as a backdrop.  The first article acts as a sidebar, explaining the Supreme Court case and how it could impact the industry.  The second article gives a glimpse of local video game culture.  My goal with this article is to give an example of why games are so important to some people.  I was hoping to exemplify gaming’s social qualities and show how games can mean different things to different people.  The video that accompanies the article is meant to drive this point home.

The third article is supposed to be a snapshot of where video games are right now.  Not only did I want to include the positive things video games are doing, but also show some of the struggles the medium is going through.   Above all else, I want the package to show that video games could evolve into something great.  They certainly at least deserve the chance to.

Iowa Wine

When you think about wine the state of Iowa most likely isn’t your first correlation.  According to the Iowa Wine and Beer Promotion Board, Iowa wine and Iowa vineyards created $234.3 million in annual revenue in 2008. This money is the result of:

74 Iowa Wineries

400 Grape Growers

1000 Grape Bearing Acres

186,700 Gallons of Wine

1777 Full Time Jobs

The economic impact of wine in Iowa is a combination of wages paid, retail amounts of wine sold, wine related tourism expenditures and local, state and federal taxes paid.


Although winemaking  in Iowa dates back a few hundred years, half of the state’s vineyards and wineries were established in the past five years.  Iowa growers and wine makers face several challenges, making a profitable wine business difficult in the area.


The largest problems this industry faces in Iowa are developing a sustainable infrastructure, limited knowledge in Iowa winery business planning, limited number of trained workers, and unfavorable climate.

Since the wine industry in Iowa is very recently developed, building it from scratch is difficult and wineries and vineyards are still struggling to figure out how to profit from their businesses.  The newly developing industry still need a significant amount to time and money put into it before it’s structure is solid and is able to grow.  The business is still figuring out how to use it’s resources to grow, sell, and distribute the product.

Given that the industry is new, the business aspect of growing and selling wine in Iowa is still not being figured out as business owners figure out how to compete in the complex wine industry.

Another challenge the developing industry has is lack of knowledgeable workers.  Iowa has a shortage of trained viticulture and enology professionals.  This causes the growing of grapes to be less successful than possible and causes the grape quality to be lower.  Without being able to produce the best possible product it is difficult to compete in the wine industry.

The harsh weather of the Midwest makes vineyards a challenge to run to Iowa.  The grapes are exposed to low temperatures that cause the grapes to go bad when they freeze.  The grapes are also exposed to humid and wet conditions during the growing season that cause rot and a variety of mildews.  In addition to weather challenges, crops are also ruined by some of the insects and wildlife that are abundant in Iowa.  Only certain species of grapes, mostly American, can make it in these conditions.

Further research needs to be done before Iowa vineyards are able to figure out what variations are best and what cultivation techniques are the most effective for this area.

Why Iowa?

Although the wine industry in Iowa is struggling to create a successful business model the industry is gradually becoming profitable and has had rising sales.  It has recently been recognized in the national media for its improving quality.

Along with growing sales, the number of wineries and wine events in Iowa is adding to the state’s tourism, which is a major industry in Iowa.

Visit a Local Winery for a Wine Tasting or Enjoy Some Iowa Wine at Home

Wineries often offer fun events to sample their products and promote their wines.  Some enhance your wine tasting experience by offering parties, concerts or educational experiences.  These events are a good way to sample many kinds of local wine before you buy a whole bottle and can be an enjoyable outing with friends.  To find a winery near you click here.

In addition to visiting a winery to get some locally made wine, many grocery stores, co-ops and businesses sell bottles.  To find a distributer near you and find out what wine you would prefer click here.

The Importance of ‘Giving Back.’

As poverty rates continue to climb in Johnson County, volunteering has become more prevalent with some University of Iowa students.

By: Stefanie Schultz

The Hawkeye Area Community Action Program has various holiday programs to help low-income and homeless Iowa City families. This donation box is located at Kmart on Highway 6 in Iowa City. Photo by: Stefanie Schultz

Kelsey Jenn is a senior at the University of Iowa. She is an Elementary Education major who has volunteered since high school.

“I began volunteering at local hospitals. I’ve also volunteered at food banks and retirement homes. Here at the University I’ve done a lot of tutoring. I want to be a teacher so as much interaction as I can have with children is great,” said Jenn.

A variety of local organizations offer volunteer opportunities for local community members and university students. Habitat for Humanity is an organization that offers volunteer opportunities for students. They focus on building affordable homes for families in need.

“We do fundraising campaigns all year. It’s a rewarding experience,” said Kasie Ver Schurrue, Director of Resource Development for Habitat for Humanity.

University students and local community members can also become volunteers through church groups.

Susan Lungren, Christian Formation leader for Calvary Episcopal Church, encourages students and community members to volunteer.

“Volunteering is a gratifying experience. The most rewarding part is seeing the happiness on the faces of the people you have helped and to know you’ve touched their lives,” said Lungren.

Jenn agrees.

“The best part of volunteering is knowing that you’ve made a difference in another persons life,” said Jenn.

Local Volunteering Opportunities

The Parkview Church in Iowa City, is a local church that has a variety of volunteer opportunities for students and individuals. Doug Fern, Pastor of Compassionate Ministries, said that student volunteering has increased in the past year.

“It’s been great to see more university students volunteering. This year we’ve had more students than we’ve had in past years,” said Fern.

The Parkview Church offers volunteer opportunities for after school programs, reading programs, and mentoring programs and they have a strong connection with University of Iowa.

“Currently we have 100 kids in mentoring programs. We serve food and play games. I encourage students to check out our website if they are interested in volunteering,” said Fern.

Students have the opportunity to volunteer not only locally but around the country. The Calvary Episcopal Church gives students the opportunity to volunteer around the country.

“We [Calvary Episcopal Church] have repaired homes in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, West Virgina, and Tennessee. We have also taught Bible School to children in Canada and Montana,” said Lungren.

The Importance of Volunteering

For some students at the University of Iowa volunteering has been a rewarding experience.

“I’ve always valued the opportunity to give back to a community that has supported me in many ways. When I tutor or work with a child, it’s amazing to see them get so excited and happy. The way they light up makes all the difference,” said Jenn.

Nick Chamis, First-Year Law Student at the University of Iowa, said that volunteering has been a satisfying experience.

“It’s seeing the work you’ve done and to know that no matter how minor it is, it still makes a difference,” said Chamis.

Jenn also describes volunteering as a rewarding experience and something that she will continue to do.

“It’s something that I value and I feel that a community struggles to function without it,” said Jenn.

“My advice for other students would be to find something that you think you’ll truly love to do. Just wanting to help out is awesome, but when you find something that you truly care about, it makes the experience that much more rewarding,” said Jenn.

Genetically Engineered Salmon: Would You Eat It?

If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, salmon would be the first genetically engineered animal to be sold in stores.

By Nicole Karlis

AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company that focuses on gene modifications that results in early development and growth in fish, is seeking FDA certification for one of their products—AquAdvantage® Salmon—a genetically engineered, or transgenic, Atlantic Salmon.

The FDA met with the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee, VMAC, in Maryland between Sept. 19-20 to discuss the issue.

The advisory meeting is one step in the process towards final approval.

While a decision has yet to be made by the administration, a couple of Iowa City grocery stores say they would never purchase it, experts are skeptical, and various officials say there is nothing unhealthy about it.

Click below to read all sides of the issue:

What happened at the September meeting & local stores response

Experts say the FDA needs more information to make a decision

Quick Facts


Quick Facts

An Overview of the Genetically-Engineered Salmon

If approved by the FDA, the genetically engineered salmon would be the first genetically modified animal to be sold in stores.

•The FDA has recently approved one animal-related product, a goat engineered item to produce a human pharmaceutical in its milk.

The Following information comes from the AquaBounty FAQ.

•  AquAdvantage® Salmon do not grow bigger than the regular Atlantic Salmon, only faster


Courtesy of AquaBounty.

• AquAdvantage® Salmon will be raised in intense biological and physical containment to prevent them from escaping and interacting with the native fish

• AquAdvantage® Salmon don’t have an additional amount of growth hormones compared to the wild Atlantic Salmon

• Genes are extracted from the Pout and Chinook Salmon to create the AquAdvantage® Salmon

Quick Facts About Salmon

• Atlantic Salmon are native in the Northern Atlantic Ocean.

• The world is eating more Salmon: Consumption in the US increased “nine-fold” between 1987 and 1999.

• European salmon consumption increase about four times. And doubled in Japan between 1992 and 2002, according to National Marine Fisheries Services.

General facts gathered from the information presented to the VMAC in September.

Sorority Life

What is a sorority? A sorority is defined as a social organization for girls with similar interest.

 Sorority girls are often judged on campuses more strictly than their classmates. Most people before they ever reach college already have some stereotypical image of what sorority girls are like. Usually this image is based on the stereotypes they see on TV and in the movies.

This media package on Sorority Life will show you the effect stereotypes have on sorority girls and what sorority girls really have to offer to the community.

 – Sorority Stereotypes Revealed

Sororities Give Back To The Community

Not Your Stereotypical Sorority Girl

Sororities Give Back To The Community


Alpha Xi Delta member Mackenzie Hocking shares the love at the Especially For You Race in Cedar Rapids.( By: Keith Norem)

When you pay an entry fee to participate in a volleyball game or participate in a 5k run, what does that entry fee mean to you? For sororities, your entry fee could mean providing research funding for heart disease, cancer, or even autism.  Sororities conduct several philanthropy and community service events throughout the year to help improve the community they live in.

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

On November 14, 2010 about 25 girls from Alpha Xi Delta Sorority at the University of Iowa car pooled to local nursing home to play bingo with the residents. The girls talked, laughed, and shared stories with the residents.

A lot of girls were as excited for bingo as the residents were. Cara Meyers and her partner were waging an all-out war with all the other bingo players.

“I remember I kept telling her we needed to get more cards. That way we would have a better chance at winning. Then she just turned around and started laughing,” Meyers said with a smile on her face.

Cara and her partner Dorothy did end up winning the last bingo round which happened to be blackout. Cara claimed they just had to win in honor of Dorothy’s 100th birthday the following week.

“It means a lot to them that Alpha Xi Deltas came out and played Bingo with them. The residents really enjoyed it and I know the girls did too,” said Andrea Anderson, a CNA at the nursing home.

The girls originally planned to only stay for two hours, but they were having so much fun they decided to stay an extra half an hour longer.

“I had so much fun playing. I didn’t even realize that it was time to leave,” said Natalie Tercheck.

Helen, a resident at the nursing home, approached the girls before they left and told them that she really appreciated the girls coming and playing bingo with them. She even asked them when they would be coming back.

The girls all agreed that they would definitely visit again sometime soon.

The Reason Why They Volunteer

Jordan Franklin, an Alpha Phi at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA, knows how rewarding of an experience it is to help someone in her community.  She even admits that sometimes it can be hard to host a philanthropy or community event because of how much the events personally affects her.

“Last year a few girls and myself helped with a fundraiser for a little boy named Ollie who was dying of a  brain tumor and only had a few months left to live. We helped set up a carnival for the fundraiser and got to play with children. But it was hard because we wanted to do more but there wasn’t really anything else we could do,” Franklin said.

The circumstances were sad, but the only thing they could do was live in the moment and hope that the fundraiser helped the little boy’s family.

Natalie Tercheck, an Alpha Xi Delta from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA, shares a similar experience.  Last term Tercheck volunteered at the Johnson County Crisis Center bagging groceries for the people who came in. During her experience, she had an interesting run-in with a lady.

“I specifically remember one lady who yelled at me for not giving her “real soap”. She wanted one with a brand name, like Dove, but the only ones they had were generic brands. I realize how frustrated she probably was. A lot of the people coming into the Crisis Center aren’t used to asking for help because they never used to need it. But the economy has really taken a turn for the worst, and a lot of the middle class can’t afford the things they used to be able to afford. The experience I had with that lady made me realize this, and it’s really sad,” Tercheck said.

Unlike Franklin’s situation, Tercheck has the opportunity to do more for her community. Tercheck mentioned that after volunteering she feels that it is important for her to continue helping out at the Johnson County Crisis Center. There are more people there that need help and there will be even more as the months start to get colder. Tercheck hopes to get some of her sisters to also volunteer at the Johnson County Crisis Center this winter.

Giving Back

Although sororities are required to do volunteer work and host philanthropy events, giving back to the community means more to them than just fulfilling a sorority requirement.

Alpha Phi requires its girls to perform two hours of volunteer work a term in addition to the time they spend raising awareness about their philanthropy.

 Jordan Franklin has already met her sorority’s quota for volunteer hours this term, but she has not stopped volunteering.

“So far this year I have done four hours of volunteering at Go Red for Women’s cardiac care. I volunteered for an hour at the chili cook off for Rett Syndrome. I also participated in another sorority’s philanthropy event. The sorority hosted a kickball tournament to raise money for breast cancer research,” said Franklin.

Franklin and her sorority sisters think that volunteer work seems more like fun than work, because they enjoy helping out the community.

Dede Six, a Nu Psi Tau at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, IA, said her sorority manages volunteer hours differently than other sororities. Nu Psi Tau does not require a minimal amount of volunteer hours but requires girls to volunteer for two events. These events can range from an all-day event to just a couple of hours.

“Nu Psi Tau this year has volunteered at the Clow’s Company picnic. We have also partnered with a lot of student organizations on campus for fund-raising events. This winter we are scheduled to do bell ringing so we are pretty excited,” said Six.

Nu Psi Tau Sorority has just recently become affiliated with Greek Life at William Penn University. Six said that the main mission for the sorority currently is to just volunteer throughout the community and let everyone know who they are.

By: Jessica Heemsbergen

For more information on the sororities’ philanthropies please view Philanthropies & Community Awareness. Also check out Not Your Stereotypical Sorority Girl  and Sorority Stereotypes Revealed.

Philanthropies & Community Awareness

Alpha Xi Deltas Amy Rakiewics and Lindsey Castellano Volunteer at the Iowa City's "Sand in the City" Event (By:Jenna Wilson)


Sororities enjoy participating and hosting philanthropy events. They just wish that the community was more aware of all the great causes they support.

Philanthropy events usually include some type of activity for the public to participate in. The only thing people have to do is pay an entry fee and then they can participate.

At the University of Northern Iowa, Alpha Phi’s philanthropy is women’s cardiac health. The sorority promotes awareness about women’s cardiac health and visits the Cardiac Care Foundation

“We have two major philanthropy events. The first event is Spike Out Heart Disease. It’s a volleyball tournament we host all day long and all the money from entry fees goes to the Women’s Cardiac Care Foundation. Our second event, which is our major one, is our Red Dress Gala event.  The Red Dress Gala event is a dinner and silent auction. It’s a three course meal and where respectable people in the community along with family members are asked to come,” said Franklin

At the University of Iowa, the Alpha Xi Delta’s philanthropy is Autism Speaks. The sorority hosts a competition called the Puzzle Palooza in hopes of raising awareness about autism which is currently an incurable disease. The funds raised are used to advance autism research.

“We have a lot of girls in the house with autistic family members, so this philanthropy means a lot to them personally. I love the fact that we have a philanthropy that isn’t as well-known, because I feel like it means more,” says Tercheck.

Nu Psi Tau at William Penn University does not currently have a particular philanthropy, but instead raises awareness for multiple organization including the Red Cross, United Way, and the Salvation Army.

By: Jessica Heemsbergen

Also check out Not Your Stereotypical Sorority Girl , Sorority Stereotypes Revealed, and Sororities Give Back To The Community.