SGA encourages voter turnout

Katherine Martin

The city of Tuscaloosa will vote Tuesday on a referendum that would allow the sales of alcohol on Sundays. Students and members of the Student Government Association are rallying to increase awareness of the importance of the vote.

SGA President James Fowler said that through voter registration drives held on campus the past few years, thousands of UA students are registered locally and are eligible to vote.

“This is a great opportunity to unite as a student body of more than 30,000 and to prove that every student’s opinion on this campus will be heard, not only on a classroom and university-wide level, but also on a local and state governmental level,” Fowler said.

On Feb. 10, SGA Senator Alan Rose proposed a resolution to encourage students to vote on the referendum.

“I believe that it is important to be involved voting in the place where students spend a large portion of their year, especially when the ballot directly affects the city, like seven-day sales,” Rose said.

Fowler said the upcoming vote is an opportunity for students to educate themselves and become active in the civic process.

“This vote has the potential to make a lasting impact on Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama,” Fowler said. “As students of the University of Alabama, and as residents of the city of Tuscaloosa, it is our duty to exercise our civic responsibility by voting Feb. 22.”

Ian Sams, a senior majoring in political science, agreed with Fowler that the vote is a tremendous opportunity to effect change that will directly benefit the city’s economic climate.

Sams said the economic impact will amount to millions in additional tax revenue that will boost investments in tourism and the ability to fund law enforcement, infrastructure and other areas of city governance.

In addition, Sams said, students will see an increased quality of life with direct investments in local entertainment, dining and more.

“I want to see new restaurants and entertainment venues locate in Tuscaloosa, bettering the quality of life for all students who attend the University in the future,” Sams said. “I want to see the local investments and growth, and I think this referendum will bring those soon.”

Katie Norris, a sophomore majoring in human development, said she would also like to see new restaurants come to the city.

“I think it’s really good for the students and the families around Tuscaloosa,” Norris said. “It would bring in new businesses, like P.F. Chang’s, who won’t come to Tuscaloosa because they can’t sell alcohol on Sundays.”

Beyond the economic reasons, Sams said, seven-day sales can only be opposed on religious grounds.

“We cannot allow a religious argument alone to establish law in our society,” Sams said. “Religion can be one component, but not the only component. There is no legitimate secular argument for banning alcohol sales on Sunday.”

Norris said that people who are opposed to allowing seven-day sales are probably the same people who want Tuscaloosa to be a dry county.

“There’s no way a college town can be a dry county,” Norris said. “If you don’t want to drink or buy alcohol on Sundays, you’re not pressured to do it, so you don’t have to.”