More than 100 UI students head to Des Moines for Hawkeye Caucus


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University of Iowa students are sending more than just emails to tell state leaders their opinions — they are going straight to the source.

The UI will host the third-annual Hawkeye Caucus Day today in Des Moines. Students will meet with state legislators and speak to them one-on-one not only about pressing education issues, but about student life at the UI.

More than 110 students will travel to the Capitol today, making it the largest event the Hawkeye Caucus has hosted. Additionally, more than 30 colleges, departments, and programs will be in attendance.

“I think students attending will take advantage of state legislators and talk about how much great work the university is doing,“ said Andrew Bates, the president of the Hawkeye Caucus.

Students attending the event worked many weeks in advance preparing topics and etiquette when speaking to state legislators.

UI freshman Eli Kirschbaum said that students attending the event prepared last week by practicing official procedures when meeting legislators and reviewing the agenda.

“We want the legislators of Iowa to know that we do care what happens in our legislation and hope that they listen and support the policies we want implemented,” Kirschbaum said.

Ahead of the event, state legislators expressed their excitement about hearing the issues and agenda the students have created for them, and they want to know how they can help with those concerns.

“More than anything, we want students from the University of Iowa to come and show their concerns, and we appreciate them taking the initiative to get people to react,” said Sen. Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny.

One topic that students are eager to discuss is a tuition freeze. In December 2012, the state Board of Regents voted to approve a tuition freeze for the 2013-14 academic year. The freeze, if the state Legislature approves funding, will only apply to in-state, undergraduate students.

Bates said they hope that legislators will vote for the tuition freeze after listening to the students. And state legislators hope to gauge students’ opinions about the issue after meeting with them.

“I hope to listen and learn about the priorities on the students’ mind and to talk about a number of issues, one, of course, being the tuition freeze,” said Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa.

However, state legislators also anticipate meeting the students and getting to know them on a more personal level.

Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, said he looks forward to speaking with the students and also showing legislators the good things students at the UI are doing.

“I think this event will show how much reach the UI has statewide, and I think it is a very helpful thing and builds a lot of support for the UI,” he said.

UI sophomore and UI Student Government Sen. Joelle Brown hopes that when meeting with state legislators, students will voice their opinion and also form relationships.

“We are actual students and people, and I hope my fellow students will continue to stay in contact with legislators for the rest of the year instead of just for one day a year,” she said.

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