Student governments reflect on year's accomplishments

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | MAY 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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John Rigby knows he may have not been realistic enough in his expectations of his time as president of the University of Iowa Student Government this year.

"You have to anticipate knowing that you're not going to be able to accomplish everything," the graduating senior said. "Change sometimes is going to come in small increments."

Rigby and his team set out with lofty goals. They are ending the year with some successfully implemented and others they weren't able to get done — such as getting the drop/add-class process online and implementing a "dead day" before finals.

Making the IMU open 24 hours a day has been one of their biggest accomplishments, Rigby said. This task had been something administrations had hoped to get done and failed to do in years past.

"[It's been] very well utilized, and we're happy that we were able to shephard that through," he said.
UI Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin said Rigby and former UISG Vice President Erica Hayes deserve credit for successfully working out all of the details that came with keeping the building open all day, every day, such as using UISG-allocated funds to pay for the plan.

"I have to give them pretty much all the credit for it," Rocklin said. "I think they did a great job."

Current UISG President Elliot Higgins said he plans to continue to keep the IMU open 24 hours per day as well as work to continue some past goals from Rigby's campaign, such as increasing the display of UI students' artwork around campus.

Rigby noted the "Get Out the Vote" campaign as another one of his administration's accomplishments.

Rigby's administration did not complete at least two of its key goals: allowing students to drop and add classes electronically and implementing a "dead day" — canceling classes during the Friday before finals week — to allow students to prepare better.

Rocklin said the latter goal would have been hard to accomplish in such a short time frame. He noted the academic calendar is published five years in advance, so any changes need to be made that far ahead.

"I think that any change to the academic calendar is a very long-term project," Rocklin said. "It's very challenging."

Beginning conversations with administrators while in office can help future administrations actually accomplish them, Rigby said.

Higgins said he would not rule out working to implement a "dead day," but he said he does not know a lot about the project and might seek out more information.

Higgins said he realizes some of his own goals are "lofty" but believes they are all feasible. The possibility of students being able to charge items to their U-bills in downtown businesses is one of the Action Party's most ambitious goals, he said. Others include expanding Nite Ride and working to lower alcohol fines.

Graduate student leaders also worked on ambitious goals this year.

Lyndsay Harshman, the former president of the UI Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students, said she is proud of her efforts to increase the visibility of graduate and professional students — both at the university and at state Legislature.

"Cost of education is a true issue," she said. "Not just for the university but for the longevity of the state."

John Keller, the dean of the UI Graduate College, said the research of graduate students has just as large of an impact to Iowa as the work professional students who become doctors and lawyers offer.

But integrating all graduate and professional students is an ongoing struggle, Harshman said.

"One of the challenges of [the Executive Council] is continuing to engage our students across our disciplines," she said, and she would have liked to attend more individual graduate and professional school government meetings herself to see firsthand the progress each program made throughout the year.

But Harshman's effort to make the work of graduate and professional students more visible is valuable, Keller said.

"She is a very articulate young woman and was very good in having the interest of [the Executive Council] in mind," he said.

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