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UISG: Students should interact with local, nat'l politics

BY GUEST OPINION | OCTOBER 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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Last week, University of Iowa Student Government joined UI faculty, administrators, and alumni in Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and advocate for the university.

More than 100 proud Hawkeyes came to support the UI, bringing literature, displays, and personal narratives to demonstrate the university's diverse contributions to the state. The trip, organized by the Hawkeye Caucus, continues the effort to build personal relationships between state and federal legislators and the UI community and to spread knowledge about its accomplishments. We used our time in the nation's capital to share stories of our experiences at the UI and cultivate these budding relationships.

It is important that we bridge the gap between the front-page headlines and the faces behind the many achievements of the university. The Hawkeye Caucus meeting in Washington serves as one step of a networking program that will take UISG through this year and into the future. We are making connections now in order to build a network through which we can progress our platform.

Today's political and economic conditions necessitate the participation and attention of students to the political processes. Last year, in-state tuition increased 5 percent for the state's three public universities, with increases as high as 40 percent for UI nursing students.

State lawmakers frequently make decisions that affect UI students, and we must be organized to advocate for our best interests. We will use personal relationships and visibility to raise the priority of student concerns in the Legislature and Congress and to promote the issues that most affect students.

Come January, when the Legislature resumes session, UISG will be at the State Capitol advocating for the issues facing students, including affordable tuition, tenant-friendly legislative protections with regard to housing rentals, and continued support of Pell Grants. The UI will organize en masse for both the Hawkeye Caucus Day and Regents Day in partnership with Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa at the State Capitol this spring.

However, it is also important that we continue to foster these relationships with our representatives year-round. We are meeting and communicating with our legislators, and this will continue to expand into an eventual weekly presence at the State Capitol once the legislative session begins.

By developing connections between students and legislators at the state and federal level, we open routes of accessibility in the coming months to advocate student concerns and affect policy. We encourage students to write to your own congressman and state representatives, attend your local legislator's town forum, and to join us on our days of action in Des Moines in the upcoming months. (To find your legislator visit: http://www.legis.state.ia.us/FindLeg/).

Katherine Valde is the government-relations liaison for the University of Iowa Student Government.


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