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UISG to provide student workers with public forum

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | FEBRUARY 21, 2012 6:30 AM

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Students working at the University of Iowa will soon have a forum in which to share their concerns.

"There is a huge chunk of students who are employed [at the UI]," said UI Student Government Chief of Staff Navi Bajwa. "[The voice] is there now. You know a student employee."

The UISG will host a student-worker summit on Saturday with the goal of creating more conversation between student employees and the university.

"[The purpose of the summit is] to bring together leaders of UISG and student workers to discuss how to give that group recognition," Bajwa said.

UISG President Elliot Higgins said the summit could begin allowing students to form a collective voice on employment matters.

"There are a lot of benefits to having a unified voice," he said. "As of now, there is no mechanism for that to happen."

With approximately 8,200 undergraduate student workers at the UI, there are a lot of voices to be heard.

Bajwa said through the summit, students can raise questions about payment, scheduling, and employment operations.

"If student employees are happy and their concerns are addressed, they will be more productive workers, and they will help the university run as a whole," Higgins said.

Students employees often hold important jobs, Bajwa said, such as Cambus drivers and food-service workers.

"I don't think you want disgruntled workers to be having such vital positions at the university." he said.

Student employees are gearing up for the summit as well.

"I feel that it's important that we come together and have a voice," said UI senior and River Room cook Charlie Scupham. "I think it would be nice to have the support of a group and not just an individual."

He said he plans to attend the event and appreciates the UISG's aid.

"It's good for the UISG to support student causes," he said. "There are a lot of people at the university who are student employees, and I think it's important to have them involved in decision-making processes."

Though Scupham said he hasn't had any problems with his job, he was aware of several fellow employees unhappy with recent changes in management.

UISG officials will likely guide the organization after its formation, but Bajwa said he hopes it will eventually function independently.

Cynthia Seyfer, the director of student employment at UI Student Financial Aid, said she looks forward to seeing how many students will attend Saturday's forum.

She believes the summit and potential student organization will highlight the benefits of working on campus, such as making connections in the workplace.

"I think it's always helpful when people have an opportunity to share with others," she said. "There are so many benefits to be found within student employment other than the paycheck."


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