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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Nitty Gritty boycott revisited

Following The Daily Cardinal Editorial Board's recent meeting with Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, budgetary issues tended to push other topics to the back burner. One subject that we made sure to address however was the recent compromise Cieslewicz brokered with the Common Council regarding a student serving on the Alcohol License Review Committee. After convincing Ald. Bryon Eagon, Dist. 8, to remove language making the student voting member a permanent position, Cieslewicz vowed to nominate a student to the seat once two new voting members were added to the ALRC.

While this was far from a perfect outcome, it still manages to get students represented on the ALRC. Students will have another chance to make the student voting member permanent in three years, when the council will vote on whether to continue the ALRC's current student advisory position, Until then, Cieslewicz's appointment will ensure Madison's over 40,000 students will have representation. The mayor reiterated his promise to us at the meeting and, while stating that he was keeping his options open, said he has found Mark Woulf's work on the ALRC as a student non-voting member to be very impressive. Woulf has already received the endorsement of ALRC member Ald. Mike Verveer, Dist. 4, and is likely to receive an official endorsement from the Associated Students of Madison as well. We also support Mark Woulf for his impressive efforts to represent students in a non-voting capacity on the ALRC and the dedication to city government he has shown since losing to Eagon in last spring's District 8 alderman race.

Following our meeting with Cieslewicz and our reassurance that the student seat is secure, we feel there is a need to evaluate the campaign to get a student voting member on the ALRC as a whole. The Daily Cardinal Editorial Board has been heavily involved in this issue from the beginning, stemming from our call to boycott the Nitty Gritty, an establishment owned by the ALRC's Tavern League representative, Marsh Shapiro.

We still feel that the boycott of the Nitty Gritty was justified. Shapiro's comments at the October 21 ALRC meeting, where he said ""I'm not sure that students should not be involved with the business we have here,"" among other derogatory claims, deserved an equally strong response. While it is true Shapiro was representing the Tavern League in his appearance and not himself or the Nitty Gritty, he later told The Daily Cardinal that he stood by all of his statements as both a representative of the Tavern League and as an individual business owner. We felt that boycotting the establishment of one of its most visible members sent a message to the entire Tavern League that local businesses cannot simply take students' dollars and expect us not to take ownership of the stake we have in city affairs.

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However, the circumstances have changed. The main goal of the campaign, and in turn the boycott, was to make sure students had proper representation in regard to alcohol issues downtown. In light of Cieslewicz's promise to appoint a student to the ALRC, this goal appears to have been accomplished. The Common Council will still need to confirm the mayor's appointee, but judging by the level of support we have observed, we doubt the alders will vote down a qualified candidate, whether it be Woulf or a student of similar stature.

This accomplishment does not change our opinion of Shapiro and the Nitty Gritty. We still feel there is no need to support the pocketbook of a person who is so dismissive of the student voice and seems to regard his own customer base with contempt. As individuals, it is safe to say that no members of this editorial board will be helping themselves to a Gritty Burger any time in the near future.

But following what we feel is a victory for students, we believe the time for an official boycott has passed. The message has been sent and it was heard loud and clear, while Shapiro and the Tavern League's irrational opposition to any sort of student representation on the ALRC has fallen on deaf ears. With that outcome, it is obvious the campaign had a clear winner: students. 

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