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Student leaders vote pass legislation to help LGBT students

BY LILY ABROMEIT | NOVEMBER 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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A resounding “Yes” could be heard from the University of Iowa Student Government Senate chamber Tuesday as the group unanimously voted to pass legislation to help the LGBT community on the UI campus.

UISG LGBT Constituency Sen. Crystal Terman introduced the legislation to integrate a full-time LGBT staff member at the UI, something she said she hopes will improve communication and access to services for students in the UI’s LGBT community.

“I think we’re in this really weird position, because the University of Iowa is known as being an accepting and progressive space and … [we] don’t have a full staff member,” she said.

Currently, Terman said, LGBT students rely only on one graduate student and five undergraduate part-time work-study students to deal with any issues they may face.

“It’s hard to get anything done because of the high turnover rates, because we rely on graduate and undergraduate students,” Terman said. “A full-time staff member would … provide a lot of consistency that we lack.”

Savannah Carlstrom, philanthropy and volunteer chair of Gamma Rho Lambda Interest Group worked with Terman to spread the word about the legislation to LGBT groups.

“I am really excited about [the legislation] and hope we can get a lot of support from the student groups on campus,” she said.

Calstrom said having a central location for students to turn to will provide organization and communication.

“The really big thing this would help with is there are so many fantastic groups on campus that don’t communicate,” she said, adding she thinks many times there is division between different LGBT groups and a staff person would solve this problem.

Terman said that now UISG has passed it, she will take the legislation to UI officials for formal implementation.

“Ideally, they’ll be receptive and willing to communicate on the issues presented in the proposal,” she said.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said it is important for UI officials and student leaders to discuss issues such as this.

“The university is … committed to providing services that students think are appropriate, so I’m sure this will receive a very full discussion,” he said.

Terman and Calstrom said having UISG’s official endorsement shows it is important to the undergraduate student body as a whole, not just small and individual sectors.

“It makes a really big statement if the student body and student government says, ‘We support this, and we want to make this campus a better community for everybody,’ ” she said.

During discussion over the legislation, UISG Sen. Morgan Brittain called the proposal “important for a progressive institute like Iowa” and said UISG’s passing set an important precedent.

“I think it’s the right thing to do as human beings to make sure LGBT students get what they need,” he said. “[It’s important] to make sure a lot more of resources out there for LGBT students are well-publicized … and I think a lot of progressive things will happen as a result.”


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