With the number of opportunities for students to get involved at IU, it can be daunting to jump into a new organization, especially one as vast as student government.
This fall, there are multiple opportunities for freshmen and upperclassmen to join the congressional branch, executive branch, Department of Student Rights or Election Commission that make up IU Student Government.
Congress is made up of freshmen and upperclassmen that represent areas of residence, areas of study, cultural backgrounds or interest areas. Examples include representatives for Hutton Honors College, Briscoe Quad or the School of Education.
“Joining Congress is a great way to channel any interest that you have in student government or, more generally, in improving the state of the campus,” said IUSG student body president Isabel Mishkin.
One way that freshmen specifically can get involved is through the Freshman Internship Program. Those accepted into the program are enrolled in a semester-long class planned by Mishkin and FIP coordinator Becca Townsend. The class includes information on the inner workings of IUSG and guest speakers and projects that foster professional and personal growth.
For one of the projects, freshmen are paired with a member of the executive branch to work on a project, which they present to a group of administrators at the end of the fall semester.
Director of student life Maddie Dederichs was a part of the program last year. She paired with then -Chief of Staff Mishkin to recommend new Title IX Sexual Misconduct policies to university administrators. In the spring, Dederichs and Mishkin proposed 12 recommendations to university administrators, such as the vice provost of student affairs.
“The FIP opened my eyes to university-wide issues,” Dederichs said.
Another way students can get involved in the executive branch is by applying to a committee. These committees, which are an extension of the executive branch, work as liaisons among the students, university administrators and faculty regarding topics such as academic affairs, sexual misconduct and sustainability.
This year IUSG wants to have a strong committee-oriented student government overall, said Anma Ahmed, director of IUSG’s academic affairs committee and liaison for the Association of Big Ten Schools.
“If you just have two people working to benefit a population of 40,000 students, you’re not going to have a very good representative idea of what the student body needs,” said Ahmed. “The larger the committee you have, the better idea you have of the obstacles that face the student body.”
Student Rights is a department of IUSG that helps other students navigate academic and personal misconduct. They provide information throughout the process, connect students with advocacy offices and make sure students know what to expect from a hearing, according to the IUSG website.
The Election Commission, another department of IUSG, works to establish fairness and equal opportunity for student elections and also spreads awareness of IUSG throughout the school year.
Even if students don’t want to join student government, Mishkin said the easiest way to help is to fill out surveys created by IUSG. These surveys will be distributed over email and also in person by IUSG volunteers every two or three weeks. They will ask for student opinions about specific issues on campus, such as sustainability in residence halls, and the data collected from those surveys will help dictate the direction of IUSG plans and proposals.
“If you see us, stop and say hi and take the 30-second survey,” Mishkin said. "That will easily be the least time-intensive, least energy-intensive but one of the most helpful ways that any student can help out."
Students can also attend monthly meetings to discuss broader topics regarding campus issues.The first meeting of the fall semester will be held in September.