The recently elected IU Student Government congressional executive members and the four committee chairs met Sunday for the first time.
This group, called the steering committee, discussed educating the campus on IUSG, creating a more cohesive unit between the branches and filling the vacant congressional seats.
Congress plans to create a more cohesive IUSG unit by improving the relationship between the executive and legislative branches. In the past, lack of communication between the branches has prevented them from working together to create legislation, said Dominic Thompson, IUSG speaker of the house.
By improving communication and setting clear expectations for one another's roles, the two branches can work more efficiently together, Thompson said.
“We work best when we’re working together and not fighting one another,” Thompson said. “When we work more productively together, we also implement policy a lot better and we make real change for students."
IUSG Press Secretary Michaela Rush recently began interacting with her executive branch counterpart, Jacob Susina, director of communications and engagement. This relationship has been beneficial to Rush because Susina has served longer in his position and therefore is able to share some advice regarding the position, Rush said.
Creating relationships like these between the branches will create a better pool of ideas which IUSG members can use to implement change that reflects the IU student body, Rush said.
“Hopefully that will allow for a better sounding board for ideas,” Rush said. “It gives a little more input when people are looking to make certain policy changes or resolution suggestions.”
Congress wants to create a clearer identity for itself and generate campus awareness, Thompson said.
Clearly establishing the role of Congress within student government will help IUSG run smoothly, Thompson said. In the past, there have been issues with establishing rules and boundaries regarding the role of certain branches, which has prevented Congress from helping with certain policy-making decisions, Thompson said.
Thompson said he wants to work to make sure Congress has a say this year.
“What I am focusing on is making sure that we have a stable role within student government, which is being that policymaking authority,” Thompson said.
IUSG Grammarian Samantha Waterman, who takes attendance and minutes at congressional meetings, said many of her peers aren’t aware student government exists or know its role on campus. It’s important to raise awareness because the more people are aware of and speak to IUSG Congress, the better they are represented, Waterman said.
“The student body Congress is the closest connection that students have to influencing policy within the school,” Waterman said.
The IUSG legislative branch will mostly promote itself through a stronger social media presence, Rush said.
The other topic the steering committee discussed at Sunday’s meeting was that of the over 20 vacant congressional seats.
In order to fill these seats, the congressional application will be re-opened on the IUSG website. Rush, who is in charge of updating the website, said she aims to have the application open again by the end of next week.
The application will most likely stay open until close to the congressional elections next semester, Thompson said.
It’s important that most of these seats be filled because the more representatives there are, the better the student body is represented, Waterman said.
“It’s important to have a more diverse Congress with more voices to represent people on campus,” Waterman said. “If we get more representation, everybody’s views can be heard equally.”