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UISG, ECGPS work on lobbying

BY LILY ABROMEIT | AUGUST 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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Following the approval by the Iowa Legislature of a tuition freeze for the 2013-14 school year, members of the University of Iowa Student Government and Executive Council of Graduate and Professional students hit the road to lobby for similar moves in the future.

Leaders from both student organizations visited eight cities and met with 11 legislators to ask for some things to change for University of Iowa students.

“[We] basically delivered a message about [how] the tuition freeze was great and we would love to see it possible again,” UISG President Katherine Valde said. “We thanked them for making it possible the first time.”

Valde said that although plans to continue to be vocal about receiving another tuition freeze are in place, she couldn’t provide specific meeting details and future possible agendas as of Monday evening.

“We would love to see a second tuition freeze this year, and that just kind of requires constant communication with legislators across the state,” she said. “If we just kind of keep delivering our message and keep putting our voices into the conversation, I think that that is how we can be most effective in seeing our goals realized later when they pass the budgets in May.”

Iowa legislators also said they are looking forward to continuing conversations with UI student leaders.  

“I’m always happy to meet with young people like that,” said Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids. “I want to know that they’re all on the same page, trying to get the same thing done, and they have the rational to get done what they’d like to get done.”

Rep. Jake Highfill, R-Johnston, also said he is happy to see students getting involved at a deeper level.

“I’m glad that they are so interested in how the government … works,” he said. “It’s just a really good thing that they’re so in tune to what’s going on.”

Valde and UISG Vice President Jack Cumming also worked with Executive Council President Ben Gillig and Carter Bell, the chairman of the UISG Governmental Relations Committee, to lend a voice to graduate and undergraduate students alike, discussing plans to help them retain jobs and incentives to keep them in Iowa.

Similar to Teach Iowa, a program that helps teachers find jobs, UISG and the Executive Council is working on developing a website to help students find jobs in numerous professions.

“We’re hoping to get information from across the state about jobs that are open in various different professional fields,” Gillig said. “So whether it’s dentistry, or medicine, or pharmacy, or law, or engineering.”

Although the program is specifically geared toward graduate students, resources would also be available for students receiving undergraduate degrees.

In conjunction with this project, both student leadership groups hope to create a tax incentive for graduate students to help keep them in Iowa after graduation.

“What we’d like to do is have students who are paying off their student loan debt be able to write the repayments off of their taxes,” Gillig said. “So if they stay in the state of Iowa, they get a tax incentive.”

This incentive is exactly what the state needs at a time when much of Iowa’s workforce is getting ready to retire, he said.

“Right now we’re suffering from kind of a brain drain,” he said. “A lot of people who graduate from [the UI] both undergrads and graduate/professional students, leave the state and go work somewhere else. We really need to step up now and be proactive about putting solutions in place that will encourage students to stay after they graduate.”

Although UI sophomore Nate Shires is not sure how much this particular incentive would keep him in Iowa, he believes it could persuade other students.

“A better-paying job would help pay for school more than taxes would,” Shires said. “Depending on certain students, who would get the same job no matter where they went, it would be a great option for them.”


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