Embrace city government -it’s not that bad

Breanne Gilpatrick

I don’t think I’m saying anything revolutionary when I say most Northwestern students couldn’t care less about the City of Evanston.

Think I’m wrong? Name your alderman. Name any Evanston alderman.

That’s what I thought

And you know what? I’m fine with that.

I know your average upperclassmen couldn’t have cared less about last spring’s aldermanic election if it had been settled by an all-city drink off. I’m willing to accept that.

This column is for the freshmen.

The rest of you, feel free to flip to the crossword puzzle. I know most of you already have.

Getting involved in Evanston politics is ridiculously easy. For starters, there’s this thing at every meeting called Citizen Comment, a time when you, the citizen, get to talk about whatever you want for as long as three minutes.

Trust me, people really do get up there and say whatever they want, coherency and sanity notwithstanding.

And, get this, aldermen have to listen. Well, they have to pretend to listen. And most of Evanston’s new aldermen will even listen without glowering at you.

Citizen Comment is one of the first things to happen at these seven-hour meetings, so students can even stop by on their way to The Keg for 18-and-Over Night.

In fact, students really should stop by Monday if any of them ever plan on going to bars to spend time with any of-age friends again. If students don’t voice their opinions, there’s a chance Evanston’s City Council will pass an ordiance keeping them out of fine establishments like The Keg until they really are 21. Or at least until they find a damn good fake.

See? City government really does matter.

Or if 2100 Ridge Ave. is too far away – in winter it really is – Students can write or call their respective alderman. Their names can be found at cityofevanston.org. Aldermen post their home addresses and phone numbers right online.

And the great thing about the freshmen class? They’re all getting a brand new set of aldermen. One-third of this Council was just elected in April. And all of them will be up for re-election right before freshmen graduate. Think of it as political CTECing.

Maybe then students will actually read some of The Daily’s election coverage.

Voter turnout in April’s election was kind of sad. There are 4,741 registered voters in the First Ward (think most of South Campus), according to the Cook County Clerk’s Office. Fewer than 1,400 voted in the last election.

It gets even crazier when you figure that the last two First Ward elections have been decided by less than 100 votes. Most classes this year are probably bigger than that. Hell, most dorms are probably bigger than that. And the election wasn’t even during midterms.

But maybe I’ve given up hope on your peers too soon. After all, one politically active junior took the time to write Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) this summer and inform her that if underage students can’t drink in Evanston bars, they’re going to go into the city’s neighborhoods and puke on resident lawns and pee in their bushes.

Baby steps, right?

City Editor Breanne Gilpatrick is a Medill senior. She can be reached at [email protected]