Student issues discussed in Council forum

John Koenig

“When you say you’re a professor at Eau Claire many people look at you with contempt,” political science professor Steve Majstorovich told a panel of five Eau Claire City Council members Thursday night.

The forum, organized by the Society of Politics, presented an opportunity for students to ask questions of the council members on long-time divisive issues including Third Ward parking and conditional use permits.

Majstorovich spoke about what he said is a negative attitude toward the university in the community. He said rather than telling people he’s a professor, he and other professors in his department, refer to themselves as teachers.

“There’s very few terrorist-radical communists here on campus yet, that is the impression I get when I go into town,” Majstorovich said of the tendency he sees in community members to assume professors are liberal.

“I don’t share your paranoia,” Council member and UW-Eau Claire alumna Kerry Kincaid responded, adding she was concerned Majstorovich shared his beliefs on community relations with his students.

“I think it’s possible to break down the barriers with this community, but I also think it’s possible to make it worse,” she said.

One issue that has historically strained the relationship between the university and City Council is parking in the Third Ward.

Council member Hal Davis said he can understand frustrations of both students and Third Ward residents.

“They look around and they say ‘why can’t we have greater use of the parking on our streets,’ ” Davis said.

In January, the Council eliminated two-hour parking on Third Ward streets around the university and also increased set backs from driveways. Davis said it’s too soon to tell if the new regulations will end debate about university-related traffic in the area.
“I don’t know if that’s going to work or not,” he said.

Kinkaid echoed Davis’ statement, and said in situations where demands from two groups butt heads, the Council’s job is to come to a fair compromise.

“Local government is often about a recycling of needs,” she said. “Hopefully all the user groups come out better than they were before.”

Society of Politics member Matt Rivard moderated the forum. He said he thinks students don’t often pay attention to City Council because they’re only temporary residents of the city.

“I think it’s really hard for students to get interested in what City Council does because . the stake that you have in the issue you want to raise is done in four years anyway,” Rivard said.