New grad student government members to focus on communication between UI colleges

BY BETH BRATSOS | APRIL 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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The new leaders of the University of Iowa Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students said they would like to see more collaboration among UI member governments in the next year.

The winners of the council election were announced April 3 and an inauguration ceremony took place at the Karro Athletics Hall of Fame Thursday.

UI law student and President-elect Michael Appel said the council plans to focus on a Big Improvement initiative, which is designed to create more cooperation among the six post-undergraduate member governments on campus — those in the College of Law, the College of Pharmacy, the Carver College of Medicine, the College of Dentistry, the Graduate College, and the M.B.A. program.

"This is to help each member government have one big achievement happen," Appel said. "It's all about bringing to the table the issues and problems the member governments want to accomplish that year and seeing what is common."

Appel said the Executive Council — composed of each member government from the colleges — can face difficulties in accomplishing an initiative affecting all its constituents because the governments are spread out across campus.

The council, he said, needs more of an individualized effort.

Emma Hashman, who will serve as vice president during the next academic year, said she would like to create more networking and social opportunities to increase collaboration among member governments. Though the Executive Council and the medical-school government usually attended the past year's events, she said, she would like to enhance involvement of all student bodies in the future.

"Sometimes, it's hard to get people from all different colleges together and to network for future job opportunities," she said. "[The Executive Council] is the perfect way to get those collaborations going. We can work on making publicity campus-wide … so we can have better turnout for events."

Natalie Virden, elected as executive officer, said she also plans to bring more cohesion to all UI colleges.

"Right now, we don't really have an idea of what's going on in the other schools," she said. "For example, the College of Law had a 5K [race] this past weekend, and I would have liked to see more involvement in that."

Member government officials tend to be busy with differing schedules, she noted, which could explain the lack of cohesion in recent years.

Hashman said she would also like to focus on combating the defunding of higher education next year. Although the proposed 3 percent increase on student fees by the state Board of Regents for the next academic year will likely only raise fees by $1 to $2 per student, she said, such increases can become burdensome while tuition continues to increase.

"We want to look at student fees while tuition keeps increasing every year," she said. "Even if we can't decrease it, we can look at the effectiveness of each of the fees in the student fee. We pay for parking on top of tuition, and we pay to play tennis on top of a recreation fee. Students don't always know that."

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