Luther College Chips

The power referendum: civil rights and responsibility

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I am a local citizen helping in the campaign for a municipal electric utility. Yesterday I was standing out in front of Dahl Centennial Union talking with students about the May 1 Decorah referendum and a staff person approached me in frustration. He told me he felt it was inappropriate for me to be doing that.

I appreciated his willingness to say this to me in person to engage in conversation. This is the heart of democracy, something that must happen in order for us to survive these times of division. Neither of us, through our short conversation, changed our views but we did learn that we could be civil in our disagreement and that was worth everything.

This staff person felt that I was “strong-arming” students. I told him that I was simply giving them information so they could be educated voters, their right and responsibility.

He felt that this issue does not concern the students; I feel that, since Luther is a major player in the local economy and approximately $500 per student’s tuition a year goes to paying the electric bill and that rate is going up, it most certainly does.

I am just a citizen doing the little things I can, on the street, face-to-face. Alliant’s tactic is typical corporate, using large amounts of money in an ad campaign that tells outright lies that are based on numbers that by their own admission are fabricated — that’s in their small print. This is worse than inappropriate.

I understand why some may want to steer clear of this local controversy. But I think it’s also important to understand that doing so plays into Alliant’s strategy. History clearly shows us that creating controversy and division always helps those opposed to any kind of change. Coming together to explore something that could potentially be good for our community is not divisive. It’s healthy and necessary.

In our little town I’ve never seen a more clear depiction of the David and Goliath story. I am rooting for David and hope that many students will see through Alliant’s lies, continue or begin their citizenship now, take the power of their one vote, make a difference at their future alma mater, and vote “yes” on May 1. 

To vote on Tuesday May 1 go to Good Shepherd Church, 701 Iowa Ave, a 10-minute walk or get free rides from Hometown Taxi, 563-382-8013.  If you are not yet registered, you must bring two things: proof of your identity and proof of residence — like a utility bill or a letter from a landlord that includes the address. College students living in dorms must obtain proof of residence from the Office of Student Life. Learn more at decorahpower.org.

Signed,

Liz Rog

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The student news site of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa