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Student government anticipates new semester

BY MEGAN DEPPE | JANUARY 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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As the new semester rolls in, the University of Iowa Student Government looks forward to continuing its current initiatives and seeing new ones develop. Many of the initiatives from last semester will continue on into the new semester, including the off-campus recycling campaign, working for the Bike Share Program, SafeRide, and the free Coral Ridge Mall bus route.

The “Get to Know Us” initiative will join the UISG’s current projects. In the new program, a chapter of a fraternity or sorority on campus will pair up with a multicultural student organization. These two groups are then encouraged to plan three events together: a multicultural event, a service event, and a social event. This program will officially start on Jan. 30th with a kickoff event in the Iowa Theater at 5:30 p.m. There will be a network space provided in the Airliner afterwards.

“The purpose of this program is to provide an opportunity for participants from both sides to learn from each others’ cultures,” UISG diversity liaison Will Cai wrote in an email. “Thus, on the one hand, I hope students, especially international students from the multicultural side, can get a more comprehensive picture about fraternity [and] sorority life. On the other hand, I hope students from fraternity [and] sorority life will have a chance to dig more about cultures other than their own.” Cai said while both greek life and multicultural life have had a great influence on the campus, there has been a lack of communication and collaboration between the two in the past. This is a problem the UISG hopes to correct.

“A partnership like this will be the first step of great things,” Cai said. “I have always believed that this program can serve as a catalyst for a more inclusive and equal campus.” Last year, officials initiated a campaign called “Get to Know Me,” which appointed a council to serve fraternities and sororities that identify with different cultural or identity backgrounds.

Other programs of focus for the UISG plans to focus include the Collegiate Readership program as the UISG officials aim to better inform the student body of the program and Student Credit Money Management. The Collegiate Readership program allows university students to read national newspapers for free by using their school IDs.

“That’s one of my favorite things that the UISG has worked on,” UISG President Katherine Valde said. The Student Credit Money Management is a free, professional budget and counseling service for students in the IMU. A personal financial consultant will meet with students for free to help with expenses and paying off student loans.

UISG Vice President Jack Cumming said the consultant “does a really good job at speaking to large groups,” and several fraternities and sororities have received help from the program. “The Student Credit Money Management could really grow and help students,” Cumming said.

Valde said students welcomed several of the previous initiatives. The Bike Share program was one such example. Valde said students were “willing to pay” for the program to be put in place. The biggest program the UISG worked on last semester was the tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates, said Valde and Cumming.

The UISG proposed to continue the undergraduate tuition freeze was started this academic year, with undergraduate, in-state tuition set at $6,678. Mandatory fees would push the price to $8,061. Valde said the UISG spent a great deal of time working to keep the freeze. The group took a summer road trip to speak with state legislators about how students appreciated the tuition freeze, wrote letters to legislators, and spoke at the state address.

“We’re really happy to see [the freeze] process through,” Valde said. “It’s really exciting to see that tuition freeze we talked about in July come to fruition.” As of now, there are no plans to freeze tuition for out-of-state undergraduate students, though Valde said they are “thinking of ways to keep out-of-state tuition as low as possible.”

“The bulk of our efforts this year focuses on in-state students,” Valde said.


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