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UISG: Attend the student-worker summit, move UI forward

BY GUEST OPINION | FEBRUARY 21, 2012 6:30 AM

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On Saturday, a momentous event in our school's history will occur. University-employed undergraduates will meet with University of Iowa Student Government leaders to discuss how to give a voice to student employees on this campus.

Some may think that this is insignificant or even not needed, but I implore those who think that to take a moment and realize the effect that student workers have on their lives. I ask all students who read this to take a look around the next time they are on campus. Who is serving your food in the dining halls and the River Room? Who is driving your Cambus and checking out your books at the library? Who is working at the Recreation Center, the Pomerantz Center, and other UI offices? I do not want to belabor the point by pulling out countless examples, but the answer is students. Without students working these jobs, the university would come to a screeching halt.

In addition to the rigors of studying and campus involvement, many students need to work to pay tuition and basic costs of living. With the state of the economy and increasing tuition, for many a job with the university is the difference between staying in school and dropping out. We must realize that scholarship money or financial help from parents is not afforded to all students. So then it is only common sense that a student should get a say in a matter that affects her or his life so significantly.

Moreover, this summit is critical in moving our university forward. Many of my friends and colleagues who know me well may have just rolled their eyes after reading that last sentence, because I have hammered home that point this past year. But I truly believe it. Supporting the different groups that make up a community is forward thinking, and I am going to try to my hardest to make sure that my fellow students get a say in their work place.

The rhetoric of empowering and fighting for students' rights is nice to hear, but now we have a golden opportunity to practice what we preach. Being a member of the student government, I have been given the opportunity to represent and advocate for all undergraduate students at this university. That said, when formulating platform-goals during last spring's UISG elections, I came to the realization that student workers at Iowa deserve a voice just like any other student group. How is it that in the entire history of this institution, there has not been some kind of effort to bring together such a vital group and listen to their concerns and ideas towards student employment?

Why should you care? Because our school employs thousands of students who work to keep this institution functioning. Even if you are not employed by the university, I appeal to your sense of fraternity and ask you to come to this summit to stand in support of your fellow students. None of us seem to have a problem wearing the black and gold and rooting against other schools, but we seem to hesitate when it comes to rooting for our fellow Hawks. You might see the Cambus driver or dining-hall cashier as just another employee, but remember they are also students like you and they work hard to make Iowa great.

Come and help make this university a better place as we come together to support students, specifically our student-employees. Join us and make Feb. 25 a great day to be a Hawkeye.

Navi Bajwa is a UI student and is the chief of staff of the UISG.


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