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UISG platform shows refreshing dose of reality, well thought-out ideas

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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With the announcement of a new UI Student Government occurring this afternoon, it’s time to look toward the future. And frankly, it’s also time for a change. As political apathy runs rampant among students, the UI is in desperate need of a student organization that effectively lobbies for students interests.

Hopefully, presidential candidate John Rigby — running unopposed as leader of the “Golden Ticket” party — can revitalize UISG, which has become seemingly purposeless of late. The new UISG administration must make tangible headway on a platform of feasible and attainable goals, eschewing the hollow rhetoric of preceding campaigns. The presumptive administration needs to stick to its promises, emphatically represent students, and avoid the ignominy of prior UISG terms.

Rigby is an executive senator and his running mate, Erica Hayes, is a three-year UISG veteran and currently serves as the speaker of the Senate. Rigby said he wants a student government that reflects the traits and qualities of the Iowa students.

“We feel that UISG should be progressive, accountable, creative, transparent, and absolutely incessant in its commitment to the UI’s greater student community,” Rigby told the Editorial Board.

After a year of decisions made outside the scope of student interests, it’s only natural to feel a tad skeptical about Rigby and Hayes. Still, we’re encouraged by Rigby’s initial statements. Rigby and the rest of UISG should focus on lobbying for students on tuition issues, repairing the line of communication between UI students and officials, and smaller, student-centric initiatives such as expanding IMU hours. And for the most part, the “Golden Ticket’s” platform addresses these issues.

Rigby and Hayes support: extending the IMU’s operating hours, simplifying the class add/drop process, reducing the cost of official transcripts, implementing a “dead day” on the final Friday before finals every semester, and finding additional places to display student artwork on campus or downtown.

Give Rigby and Hayes credit: Their plans lack the impracticality of the all-too-common calls for tuition freezes and the like. Nevertheless, what about the increasingly egregious cost of tuition?

“I wish there was a silver-bullet answer that could reduce the cost of higher education,” Rigby said.

Still, he said he would like to tackle the rising cost of college by encouraging parents to join UISG in lobbying the state Capitol every spring.

Rigby said, “We think it’s critical to not only let our state lawmakers and regents hear the students’ voices, but also the parents and community members.”

It’s clear that the burdensome cost of tuition is not going to be solved in the next year. Still, Rigby and Hayes need to be passionate, indefatigable advocates for students on education-funding issues.

Students are relatively powerless to halt declining state support for public higher education. Consequently, it’s essential that Rigby and UISG fill that agency void.

Rigby also said he and Hayes are looking to increase political engagement on campus. To that end, he said he hopes to partner with the College Republicans and University Democrats to help bring political candidates to campus this fall. We strongly support this platform plank.

In addition, campus communication needs an overhaul. UI administrators and UI students simply do not understand one another, and UISG’s main purpose is to bridge such a gap. In addition, a potential 21-ordinance ballot measure in November would undoubtedly polarize students and administrators.

Rigby said he would like to see his administration better gauge students’ opinion and move forward in addressing their concerns, later noting that UISG must avoid a lack of accountability. He said enhancing online communication via UISG’s website is important for communicating with students.

“Listening and talking to students and then thinking of proactive solutions to address their concerns will remain a top priority during our administration’s term,” he said.

Well, we’re listening. And we hope the administration will treat their positions as more than just glorified résumé boosters. All too often, student apathy is vindicated when the perennially ineffective UISG fails on key campaign promises.

Here’s hoping Rigby and Hayes can change that perception.


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