The Daily Cardinal and The Badger Herald often offer strongly opposing viewpoints on campus or city issues. But after Wednesday's meeting of the city's Alcohol License Review Committee, the main organization in Madison that decides alcohol policies citywide, we have agreed with the Herald's editorial board that a combined call to action is needed.
If you are a student at UW-Madison, we forcefully ask for you to boycott the Nitty Gritty restaurant and bar, as we feel the comments made by owner Marsh Shapiro indicate a serious disdain for student viewpoints.
Shapiro sits on the ALRC as a nonvoting advisor, representing the Madison-Dane County Tavern League. The comments at issue deal with the ALRC voting down a proposal to add a two-year student voting seat to the ALRC, where there is currently a nonvoting student technical advisor, Mark Woulf.
He stated at the meeting that few to no members of the Tavern League understand ""why a student should be on this body,"" along with these and other quotes:
""I'm just not sure the students should be involved in the business that we have here.""
""I just don't see any reason for them to be on this committee, since a lot of the issues that we are dealing with are not entirely campus-oriented.""
""I just don't think they belong here.""
We realize that his comments at the meeting were as a Tavern League spokesperson, representing the viewpoints of a group that has unilaterally opposed student representation on the committee, but when asked in a follow-up interview if he would say the same thing as owner of the Nitty Gritty, Shapiro said he likely would have the same position.
Shapiro said in the meeting that Ald. Bryon Eagon, District 8, who represents a largely student district and proposed the idea, is entitled to represent his constituents. Yet students also make up the major constituency of the Gritty's patrons, and it seems Shapiro does not believe the students on this campus are smart enough or hardworking enough to understand what goes on in the ALRC. He stated at the meeting that many issues dealt with in the ALRC might not involve downtown or campus, but failed to mention that downtown-related issues often take up the majority of the committee's time, even if they are not the most common agenda items. As noted by Woulf in the meeting, ask bar owners what their sales are like in the summer and see if student ""input"" is appreciated.
ALRC member Chet Gerlach said at the meeting that if students care about the voting position, then they should lobby Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. We couldn't agree with him more. The ALRC has a concrete effect on the everyday lives of students, and it is past time for them to have better representation on the committee. We realize that both the university and the Tavern League have asked for a voting seat, but they are not a 40,000-strong community in the city. This is not about one bar or special-interest group opposing a student voting seat on this influential committee, it is about students advocating forcefully for themselves and making it clear they are determined to help shape city policies. We demand that the mayor create a student voting seat or students must make their economic and electoral impact felt on other parts of the city.