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UISG student leaders look back at the year's accomplishments

BY JONATHAN SOLIS | MARCH 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa Student Government gaveled in its last Senate meeting on Tuesday.
Next week, new parties will campaign to fill their seats.

One year ago, the I-Party was in the same position. Its members campaigned on a platform that promised improvement to campus, academic, and off-campus life for students. The party swept the election, winning all 39 Senate seats.

Not every point on the I-Party’s platform was successfully implemented, however. Despite initial enthusiasm, no additional moped parking was added this year, nor did I-clicker rentals ever come to fruition. Yet, many of the party’s initiatives this year covered its original platform points.

UISG implemented at least 14 initiatives during the 2012-13 school year, under the auspices of President Nic Pottebaum and Vice President Jessie Tobin. Some of these have carried over from years past, such as the 24-hour IMU program.

But UISG has executed many of its own initiatives this year, a move that Director of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership Bill Nelson said is evidence that this year’s student government has been “truly noteworthy.”

Sustainability

Under the leadership of the sustainability liaison Kelsey Zlevor, UISG expanded the “hydration station” program to dorms, the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, and academic buildings. 

“Her leadership on that was just tremendous, getting everyone together; administration, facilities, and students,” said Office of Sustainability communications specialist George McCrory.

UISG is in the process of distributing 500 water-conserving showerheads to off-campus students, a task also spearheaded by Zlevor.

“I think their sustainability efforts are probably their most visible accomplishments,” Nelson said.

Diversity

UISG’s diversity efforts culminated in its “Get to Know Me” campaign. According to UISG’s records, the campaign video was shown to all students in their OnIowa experience, and it has totaled nearly 800 views on YouTube.

Yet, Sri Chockalingam, the president of the Multicultural Greek Council fall semester, said she hadn’t heard much about the program. The council serves fraternities and sororities that historically identify with different cultural or identity backgrounds.

“The main thing we did with UISG was funding,” she said. “In general, they’re pretty good with cultural events, but we did get denied for quite a few things.”

She suggested that UISG could fund council groups that work to bring more diversity to campus.

Changing the budgeting culture

Through the efforts of UISG Chief Financial Officer Erica Lester, next year’s student organization funding process will shift into what she calls a “culture change.”

The new system that stresses organizations complete their entire budgets for the year rather than rely on periodic supplemental funding. Instead of the previous three supplemental periods, there will now only be one per semester.

“Switching to true fiscal funding system is going to reward those who prepare,” Lester said. “It will reward them for putting in the budget right away and planning ahead. It’s what’s we’re trying to encourage.”

SafeRide

UISG spent around $2,946 on its SafeRide program, Pottebaum said. For the cost, the program has assisted roughly 110 students this academic year with free cab rides that take them home or to the hospital in emergency situations. A student gets one free ride per semester.

The program was one of the first successfully executed initiatives this year. Its implementation and subsequent evaluation makes it one of UISG’s most effective efforts, Nelson said. 

SafeRide, along with it’s many other initiatives, are going to be sustained over the next few years, which is necessary to really evaluate the success of initiatives, Nelson said.

Carrying through

Leaders of both tickets vying for the executive positions have praised Pottebaum and Tobin’s leadership this year.

“They started with a clear vision and stayed productive,” said Sen. Katherine Valde, who will run for UISG president. “I think they’re leaving us in a good spot.”

Jostna Dash, who will run for vice president in opposition to Valde, said the current UISG leaders had done an exceptional job as role models for next year.

Nelson said he hopes that both parties sustain this year’s goals.

“It’s important for incumbent groups to consider incoming initiatives in addition to their own platform,” Nelson said. “For us to really evaluate the success of these programs, we need a couple years of data.”


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