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IUSA unveils initiatives for new school year



The IU Student Association executive board is primed to administer a new set of initiatives this school year.

Andrew Braden, junior and first-term IUSA president, said he is prepared to lead an administration whose platform focuses on increasing student safety, diversity and involvement.

Safety

Student safety is the administration’s top priority, IUSA Chief of Staff Dia Sharma said.

The administration plans to finalize research on a mobile safety app by mid-fall, Braden said. The app will likely identify both the safest and riskiest areas of campus and Bloomington and link to emergency numbers and crisis hotlines.

“We feel that there is a more effective method than the current blue light system we have in terms of emergency management,” Braden said.

The administration also intends to introduce a bystander intervention program to New Student Orientation, Braden said. The program will likely reflect Step UP! IU, the current bystander intervention program run by Culture of Care.

“Our hope is that students, from the moment they step on IU’s campus, will be prepared for a lot of the risky behaviors that they might see during their college experience and will come in prepared and know what to do when they see them,” Braden said.

In an attempt to alleviate recent patient congestion, the administration also plans to increase access to Counseling and Psychological Services, whether by offering more hours or introducing more counselors, Sharma said.

“It’s important to us,” Sharma said. “Mental health is something that’s been in the media across the country, and so this is something that we’d like to focus on.”

Diversity

Student diversity is also among the administration’s top priorities, Sharma said. The diversity department, established under the last administration, intends to have group events with domestic and international students and collaborate with cultural groups, Sharma said.

“We’d like to bridge the gap between domestic and international students,” Sharma said. “That’s something that we have found has been a problem area in the past.”

Student Voice

In recent years, IUSA has faced complaints regarding a need for student voice, a lack of representative access and a shortage of relevant initiatives. As a result, student involvement is also among the administration’s top priorities, Sharma said.

“Something that we’ve been told is we can’t always expect students to go to us, and we have to go to students,” Sharma said. “And that’s something we’re doing proactively as opposed to reactively this year.”

In an attempt to do so, the administration plans to form student think tanks, introduce a moving speaking tour and launch a new website, Sharma said.

Likely in teams of two to five, members of think tanks would compile research and brainstorm solutions to problems with long-term solutions. Representatives will assign students to think tanks based on interest.

“Something that we want to do with the think tanks is not set all of the initiatives ahead of time,” Sharma said. “If a problem arises that comes out of a moving speaking tour, and a student comes to us and says, ‘You know, this is really a problem, and I have an idea of how to fix it, and this is how to fix it,’ we would bring them on board and say, ‘Let us give you the tools to help you solve this problem on your own.’”

For the moving speaking tour there will likely be groups of two to four. Representatives would hold biweekly office hours at popular campus locations such as food courts, the Herman B Wells Library and the Indiana Memorial Union, where students will have a chance to express opinions, communicate problems and offer solutions.

“We want students to feel that they can approach us and talk to us, and we don’t want to feel like we’re shouting them down and attacking them,” Braden said. “We want students to be able to come to us and feel comfortable talking to us.

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