As members of the student government, IU Student Association representatives are in the position to mediate discourse between students and administrators. Candidates are also considering ways to understand student needs.
Casey Shelburne, Hoosiers 4 Solutions’ presidential candidate, said that in his experience, not many students understand what student government is and does.
“A lot of students that I’ve talked to, I tell them that I’m running for IUSA and they look at me with a blank stare,” he said.
Shelburne said his administration would meet consistently with the largest student organizations on campus and suggested a regularly distributed newsletter updating IU students on IUSA activities would be helpful as well.
“I don’t think we need a $10,000 marketing budget to do it,” he said. “I think social networking is effective and cheaper.”
One of Hoosiers 4 Solutions’ platforms includes asking for program suggestions from students and periodically selecting ideas that are feasible and cost-effective. They also want to include the student or group that suggested the program in its implementation.
Shelburne said he feels one of IUSA’s main roles is advocating for students in meetings with administrators and ensuring that students are involved in changes that directly affect them. He said he would like to see IUSA’s advocacy role improve in the next administration.
Sidney Fletcher, SPARC for IU’s presidential candidate, said he and his running mates believe IUSA needs to balance forming relationships with administrators and communication with students.
“IUSA’s primary responsibility is to the students, so the most crucial part is feedback,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher and SPARC Chief of Staff Ty Nocita both said SPARC wants to focus on forming IUSA into a conduit of communication between students and administrators.
Nocita said they would work with the student body to adopt feasible ideas and present them to administrators.
It is important to remember, he said, that not everything students want is possible.
Fletcher said SPARC would work to ensure that in those cases, students would stay informed of administrator’s reasons for deciding not to pursue those ideas.
“There’s a lot of narrative that the student body is apathetic,” Nocita said. “I haven’t seen that at all.”
Although ticket members plan to be accessible to students, Tom Dauer, SPARC’s candidate for vice president of Congress, said ticket members do not want to wait for students to come to them. SPARC wants to build relationships with student groups on campus in order to learn what students want.
Kathryn Flanigan, YOUniversity’s co-chief of staff, said one of YOUniversity’s focuses while in office would be providing students access to IUSA resources. Students would be able to submit suggestions and proposals online through the Access, Connect, Evaluate Portal, which executives would directly receive.
Big proposals would be taken to the IUSA Congress so representatives could vote whether or not to adopt the idea, she said. Should they take the student’s suggestion, IUSA representatives would assist that student in bringing his or her idea to fruition.
“Should the student be really passionate about their idea, we’d like to invite them on board to share the resources we have at IUSA,” she said.
Other than the ACE Portal, which would require students to initiate communication, Flanigan said YOUniversity has been brainstorming ways to proactively reach out to students, as well.
One idea they had, she said, was to create a team of people to spread out over campus and interview students about their concerns.
She said YOUniversity is concerned with creating a channel of input from students to administrators and vice-versa.
“I’m a firm believer that even if administrators may not always be in touch with what students want, they want to align their goals with what students want,”