IU Student Association will lead the Association of Big Ten Schools conference, a gathering for the executives of student body governments from Big Ten universities. The conference will run Friday through Sunday.
The ABTS conference occurs three times a year. Student delegates travel to different Big Ten universities for meetings in August and January. They meet a third time in the summer in Washington, D.C., for a conference called “Big Ten on the Hill.”
IUSA president Kyle Straub said the conference is an opportunity for student leaders to network and share notes on projects they have launched.
“A lot of ideas that we have adopted for our initiatives, including the SafeRide program, we got from past ABTS conferences, from speaking to other schools,” Straub said.
Each active Big Ten school sends delegates from the senior staff of its student associations.
“The networking is really helpful,” IUSA Chief of Staff Augustin Ruta said. “We have contacts, people that are sharing their knowledge of ways to get ideas passed and all their data, and that’s huge.”
Ruta and Straub both said although different schools may have different problems, students on all these campuses generally have similar concerns.
“Multiple Big Ten schools are working on governmental affairs, trying to get into the Statehouse and get their voice heard,” Ruta said.
Ruta said the conference will include a guest lecture by J.T. Forbes, director of IU Alumni Association, and a leadership development workshop by R.J. Woodring, a former IUSA faculty adviser. Delegates will break into small groups twice on Saturday to talk about what Ruta calls “hot-button issues.” According to the agenda, they will be discussing campus safety and student advocacy.
Straub said Dia Sharma, a member of IUSA senior staff, and Ruta were in charge of organizing the event. While Sharma said they did not have the exact amount of money IUSA was spending on the conference, the costs vary between schools.
“IUSA did have some of the cost of ABTS included in our budget, but other schools also pay for each of their delegates to attend the conference,” she said. “Each student government’s contributions add up to cover the cost of the conference.”
Ruta said this conference usually has a positive influence on Big Ten student governments.
“We’re taking the knowledge that we have, and other schools are taking the knowledge that they have, and we’re all coming together to share and help each other,” Ruta said.
Sharma said she is excited to take part in the conference this weekend.
“It’s a great experience to meet fellow student government representatives and share your ideas with each other,” Sharma said. “We’re looking forward to collaborating and spending time with our fellow Big Ten student governments.”