Despite big goals, don't count out UISG


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Students running for University of Iowa Student Government received excellent practice for the political “real world” last semester during the campaign season.

With political propaganda, complaints, and unrealistic campaign promises — such as concerts that could fill Kinnick Stadium or free taxi rides for University of Iowa students — those running for student government went through the trials of exciting their political base.

However, many students remained either doubtful whether the UISG candidates could accomplish any of the things they proposed, or didn’t care —only around 25 percent of undergraduates voted, as reported by The Daily Iowan.

But the problem is not so much that UISG is unable to accomplish its initiatives, rather it needed to better engage students — and starting this semester, UISG representatives are determined to do just that.

“Some of the programs I’m most excited about are the get-out-the-vote campaign, Get To Know Me diversity campaign, and the Textbook Tax Rebate program,” said UISG President Nic Pottebaum. “It’s great that we have these wonderful projects underway, but now one of the most important things is to make sure the students know about them.”

 These are not the only projects that UISG is working on this semester, but they are among the many new projects that are getting attention, while other topics may be less interesting to students.

“Student involvement varies depending on the topic,” Pottebaum said. “When it’s a project such as sustainability, and we have some 13 or 14 student groups focused on sustainability, then it’s really easy to see student involvement.”

Perhaps students do not always see results — or don’t look — but that doesn’t mean that UISG fails to achieve accomplishments.

Moreover, despite the wide variety of bureaucratic hurdles the representatives must overcome, the various appointed and elected students still find ways to promote the student body.

For example, last year, UISG representatives increased sustainability projects by dispersing free water bottles and reminding students to use the filling stations rather than wasting plastic water bottles. They are also in large part responsible for lobbying in Washington, D.C., to keep loan rates low and for the tray-less dining initiative in Hillcrest.

Furthermore, the varying administrative positions on UISG send students to the Statehouse to lobby for appropriations, and last year that started a program called Universities for a Better Iowa, which focuses on maintaining a good relationship between the state Board of Regents’ schools and the state government.

This year, UISG will help students learn about student organizations, diversity, the national election, and their own taxes. UISG is also in charge of appropriating funds to the various student organizations.

Though there has often been the sentiment that UISG is an organization of elitist college students who have all the qualities of lying politicians or who simply are unaware of their actual capabilities, this student government is tackling problems well within its realm and working hard to affect student lives. Sure, the UISG officials may fall short of all of their ambitious goals, such as the unlikely free taxicab service (still in the planning stages), they are certainly capable of affecting the campus community.

So fellow students, prepare to get that tax rebate on books this year, get to know each other, and be reminded, possibly on a daily basis of how, when, and where to vote, thanks to UISG.

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