Congressman Jody Hice addresses the participants. The Concord Coalition along with Mayor Kelly Girtz and Congressman Jody Hice hosted a “lawmaker for a day” federal budget exercise for members of the Athens community to experience what it would be like to be a member of the United States Congress, on Nov. 7, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

Due to legislative gerrymandering, Rep. Jody Hice represents Athens and, by extension, the University of Georgia, and he will be running again in 2020. Hice is a pastor and right wing radio show host. Before his election, he had absolutely no government experience and it shows. In particular, his record on women's rights has major issues.

Hice is against a woman’s right to choose, having written bills defining  conception as the legal beginning of human life. He has stated that he wants Roe v Wade found unconstitutional and holds rallies to push this position. This mindset is outdated.

Hice, a National Rifle Association member and advocate, voted against the  Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which passed the House with 263 votes anyway. The VAWA protects women against abusive husbands owning firearms. Hice believes that “American gun manufacturers are being punished unfairly” by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He wants virtually all restrictions lifted on firearms.

Hice, a baptist pastor, believes that women need permission before seeking elected office, saying “If  the woman’s within the authority of her husband, I don’t see a problem.” Pastor Hice, the women of UGA must be pleased to have your personal blessing to run, so long as their husbands control them. We must not allow sexist statements like these to represent Athens.

Hice has also repeatedly voted to kill the Affordable Care Act, which provides health care insurance for countless Georgia women. He and his fellow House Freedom Caucus members have yet to identify an adequate alternative to provide people with better coverage at lower cost, despite their “Better Way” rhetoric. Hice’s proposed solution for women with pre-existing conditions is to go back to letting the insurance companies raise prices, deny some services and then dump them into an unaffordable state high risk pool.

 In fact, all of Hice’s views of women are backwards. You can go to his website to confirm everything I’ve said.

Chantel Jackson, a senior psychology major at UGA, said that Hice didn’t represent her values.

“Hice doesn’t even begin to represent me, and I’d guess he doesn’t represent the vast majority of UGA students,” Jackson said. “I’d also guess that many of us don’t know who he is or what he stands for.”

How did a conservative Pastor talk show host get elected to represent liberal Athens? We can thank gerrymandering by the good old boys in the Georgia General Assembly. As Fair Districts GA explains, gerrymandering protects partisan interests through redistricting.

What can UGA students do about it? The first step is to register to vote. Then, take the time to submit an absentee ballot or go to the polls. 

Voting rates for younger citizens are horrendous both in Georgia and the U.S. — around 40% for ages 18-29 versus around 70% for those over 60 nationally. When we don’t vote, our voices aren’t heard. Do you really think Hice has our interests at heart?

Vote to change our conservative legislature so that the recommendations of Fair Districts GA are actually implemented. There’s no other way to rid yourselves of retro politicos like Hice who don’t represent UGA students’ views.