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UISG touts Get Out the Vote campaign as fall initiative

BY NICK HASSETT | AUGUST 21, 2012 6:30 AM

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The University of Iowa Student Government is underway with a mix of new and old initiatives this year, and the group’s leaders say the Get Out the Vote campaign is a priority this semester with the election being fewer than three months away.

“We ran on a platform of improving students’ lives, the little things as well as the big things, and we’re excited just to announce a few things thus far that we’ve been working on,” UISG President Nic Pottebaum said.

While Pottebaum was not able to provide the overall budget, UISG had an overall budget of $114,700 to work with last year.

The goal of the Get Out the Vote campaign is to get students registered to vote and make them more aware of voting locations and campaigns, even including a “debate watch” for the presidential debate to be held in the IMU in the fall.

“[We want students to be] more aware about campaigns, obviously not promoting a specific campaign or issue,” he said.

UISG members registered 195 first-year students to vote in two hours at the On Iowa Engage Fair, according to its Facebook page.

This year, officials also hope to revive the Textbook Tax Rebate for students. Despite the credit being enacted in 1987, Pottebaum said, it has remained relatively unknown at the UI.

“For the past seven or eight years now, student government, the university, or the bookstore just haven’t promoted it,” he said.

To be able to use the rebate, students have to go to the UISG website or to the office and fill out a form that they then send with the receipt.

While the 7 percent rebate might seem small, Pottebaum said, the money can add up.

A program many freshmen may have experienced last weekend during On Iowa was the Get To Know Me campaign. The program focused on talks about diversity and featured a video made by students as well as discussion portions in small groups.

Tobin said the response was positive.

“It was a video made by students, it got to the point, and just got them thinking and talking,” she said.

Yet one student said he did not believe the discussion section where the video was showed had changed the way people interacted with him or got to know him.

Hanyang Qian, a freshman international student from Shanghai, China who participated in On Iowa, said he didn’t really remember the video, and that not much had changed.

Not all of the programs are up and running yet.

Safe Ride, a program announced over the summer that allows students of both genders to receive an emergency taxi service once per semester, is still being finalized.

While UISG had hoped to have the program running by the start of classes this fall, Pottebaum stressed nothing has changed.

“Safe Ride will still provide a free taxi service to students from 7 p.m.. to 7 a.m. and will run on-campus to off-campus and vice versa,” he said.

While former President Elliot Higgins and Vice President Brittany Caplin had initiatives in the works, current UISG Vice President Jessie Tobin said those goals will not be forgotten.

“While we are pushing in a new direction with Safe Ride and some of our other initiatives, we’re not going to drop the ball on some of the things that student government is already doing,” she said.

Pottebaum agreed.

“We want to make sure we’re being proactive. A lot of times, student government has been reactive, in particular to student organizations and initiatives,” he said. “Instead, we’re getting out there and saying, ‘Hey, this is what student government is already doing’, finding ways to collaborate, as well as identifying relationships earlier on, as opposed to in April, when new administration happens and everything falls by the wayside.”


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