Lone candidate Ben Gillig wins UI ECGPS election


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Ben Gillig, the newly elected president Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students said he hopes to move the graduate and professional student government forward in the coming school year by paying more attention to college affordability, degree completion, and career success.

The newest leaders of the Executive Council were announced Tuesday at the weekly meeting for the organization, which was followed by an inauguration ceremony.

Gillig, a graduate student in educational policy and leadership studies, and current budget director of the group, hopes to move it forward during the coming year.

“My goal is to have the graduate and professional students play an important and engaged role in decisions that affect the University of Iowa,” he said.

Gillig has three primary platforms for the next school year.

The first is the affordability of graduate and professional education. The second is degree completion — Gillig said a great deal of graduate and professional students either don’t graduate or take a long time to do so. The third is career success.

The Executive Council has seen change during President Michael Appel’s tenure. His time as president included the conception of the One Biggest Change initiative.

This initiative challenges group members to make a difference by encouraging them to take one thing they don’t like about their student experience and change it. These changes varied between putting in a student lounge and getting new chairs for the Boyd Law Building.

Gillig said he hopes to build helpful pathways for graduate and professional students to get jobs and take their roles in the economic development of Iowa.

“I think the biggest challenge for the coming year will be making timely decisions about issues that are important to [graduate and professional students],” Gillig said.

Gillig’s plans include a Fall Forum, basically a listening tour around the various graduate and professional colleges on the UI campus.

“We’re very much located in our individual colleges, so going all over and listening to students about what matters to them is really important,” Gillig said. “From there, we would develop a student survey, which would formulate some recommendations about what we can achieve in regards to our three main issues.”

Council members of the Executive Council are selected in a parliamentary fashion — instead of being elected in a mass vote, current representatives in individual departments and colleges elect candidates.

Matt Enriquez, newly elected vice president of the group, said he believes that it’s important to raise awareness about the body.

“We need to go out and explain to our classmates what we do,” he said. “The challenge is that most people don’t realize what that is.”

Enriquez said there is a lot of room for improvement in student consciousness.

“I think the best approach is word of mouth,” he said.

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