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ECGPS focuses on visibility, lobbying

BY KRISTEN EAST | AUGUST 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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With the University of Iowa Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students having been formed only a few years ago, President Kelli Todd and Vice President Michael Appel emphasized the importance of the group’s visibility this year.

“[The Executive Council] is a young organization,” Todd said. “We are in the era where it is known around campus and with the administration, but it’s not known within our own constituents. So we’re trying to expand our presence, our visibility.”

With plans to continue last year’s lobbying efforts, the Executive Council and UI Student Government will be visible in both Des Moines and Washington, D.C., this school year. Both groups plan to make many trips to Des Moines and to attend the Hawkeye Caucus in Washington in October, Appel said.

UISG Vice President Brittany Caplin said the incentive behind traveling to Washington is to “show how great Iowa is.”

“It’s going to be a great opportunity,” she said. “[Lawmakers] are already in their element.”

Todd has the same view as Caplin, emphasizing the importance of UI officials maintaining connections with elected officials.

“We have strong ties with a handful of [elected officials], and we want to continue that and build upon that because every year there are different challenges, and we want to make sure that we address that with our friends at the Capitol,” she said.

Only four or five people from UISG are expected to attend the Hawkeye Caucus in October, while anyone who is willing may attend the state Board of Regents Day in the spring. Both events allow groups such as UISG and the Executive Council to show lawmakers how the university provides great resources for the entire state, Caplin said.

With plans for the Hawkeye Caucus still in the beginning stages, Appel was unable to comment on the specific budget for the trip.

“The budget is still undetermined,” he said. “It depends on who comes.”

If only Executive Council executives attend, the funds for the trip will be taken solely from its budget. Only executive members are expected to attend, Appel said.

Todd said the budget for this year is still being determined.

Besides lobbying in Des Moines and Washington, the group plans to make itself more visible through two marketing campaigns, Appel said. Those campaigns include publicizing its general services and helping students receive grants.

Officers will maintain the organization’s Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as creating a new website to keep students informed.

“[The current] website was originated when the organization originated, so when you look back, it doesn’t reflect who we are today,” Todd said. “We felt it was very important to redesign and recraft our website so that it reflects who we are and whom we represent.”

Its new website, which the Executive Council is planning to launch in several weeks with the help of IMU Marketing and Design, will feature three or four students on the homepage each week to highlight student accomplishments.

Todd and Appel stressed that the Executive Council’ main focus is assisting graduate and professional students.

“We hope in their reaction that they want to become involved,” Todd said. “It’s up to them to really push where they want to see this organization to go. It’s up to our member governments and our constituents to determine how they would like the Executive Council to be leaders in what capacities and in what ways.”


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