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Letter to the editor: Iowa Action director responds to criticism of tweets

Fans+wave+to+patients+in+the+University+of+Iowa+Stead+Family+Children%27s+Hospital+at+the+end+of+the+first+quarter+of+the+Iowa%2FIllinois+football+game+on+Saturday%2C+7+Oct.+2017.+Iowa+won+the+game+45-16.+%28David+Harmantas%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
Fans wave to patients in the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital at the end of the first quarter of the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Fans wave to patients in the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital at the end of the first quarter of the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan

David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan

Fans wave to patients in the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital at the end of the first quarter of the Iowa/Illinois football game on Saturday, 7 Oct. 2017. Iowa won the game 45-16. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)


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Where is the media 99 percent of the year when fans are not waving to the kids in the Children’s Hospital?

I’m writing this in response to Marina Jaimes to address her mischaracterization of the student-led organization Iowa Action, of which I am a political director. I believe she misunderstood the tweets and the tone behind them (the Hawkeye Wave was endorsed). Although these tweets could have been framed differently, they were meant to address larger issues. They do not reflect the thoughts or feelings of the members of Iowa Action. The frustration that created those two tweets, which I wrote, comes from an honest place of suffering and seeing a lack of change for me and many others.

I have a chronic illness, and I’m in the Cancer Treatment Center (which overlooks the stadium) many times over the course of a year. I know what it’s like to be behind that glass. I always see the stadium empty, and I know that’s what the kids at the UI Children’s Hospital also see 99 percent of the time: an empty stadium. Maybe seven times a year they can enjoy the Hawkeye Wave, but where are the media when people aren’t waving?

That stadium’s emptiness is symbolic to me of the local media coverage around medical policy — virtually nonexistent. The local media have been using disabled bodies as props (sometimes 6-month-old children dressed in Hawkeye gear that doesn’t even have object permanence yet). It’s so frustrating to see many disabled people like me used like this when very few people care about how hard it is for us outside of the joyful Hawkeye Wave moment.

 

 

Iowa Action’s now-deleted controversial tweets. Screenshots courtesy of DI columnist Marina Jaimes.

To see the University of Iowa capitalize on this short wave, while I, and countless others, including those children, can sit in the UI emergency room waiting area for more than five hours, get billed exorbitantly and get quickly put into collections for illnesses that we cannot control, is infuriating.

On Barta: While it’s absolutely horrible that Gary Barta is going through the ordeal of prostate cancer, we cannot afford to overlook his actions that resulted in a lawsuit. Our morals and values cannot change simply because someone who has ruined careers and lives is in a terrible situation.

His discrimination should have gotten him fired. He traumatized his coworkers and then cost the UI $6.5 million because of it. Instead of any sort of punishment, UI President Harreld extended his contract. I cannot imagine what kind of pain and suffering Jane Meyer and Tracy Griesbaum endured under Barta. And now, even after this case has wrapped up, the UI has not hired anyone to oversee its employment practices (a mandatory part of the lawsuit), even though it’s been almost half a year since it happened.

Whether we want to face it or not, injustice in our university is rampant. My frustration was initially misdirected and mischaracterized, but these issues need to be seriously considered and need to be recognized by our media, which too easily look to the shortest moments when there’s a complex story to be told.

­­— Brad Pector, Iowa Action Political Director

Brad Pector is a former Daily Iowan opinions writer

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