Last April the current IUSG executive branch members were elected into office. They ran off a campaign platform in which they identified different issues on campus they wanted to look into or improve.
Now, one semester and four months later, they have been serving in their elected positions and attempting to bring their ideas on the platform to life.
Some of them have been successful, others have not come into fruition.
Improving student engagement is one portion of the campaign where the executive branch has succeeded, said student body president Isabel Mishkin.
One way they have improved engagement is by organizing two town halls and two surveys this semester.
In the first town hall, executive branch members presented information on current problems and projects in equity and inclusion and led a discussion on that topic. The second town hall topic was academic affairs.
The town halls have provided IUSG members the opportunity to communicate some of their current projects and receive ideas from students, said IUSG vice president Matt Stein.
“Town halls have been successful in getting across to students what we are doing on a day-to-day basis and what we’re working on,” Stein said. “It’s also shown us what students expect from us.”
The two surveys on health and wellbeing and the electric scooters have provided IUSG members with more students' opinions, which they have used to direct their current projects, Mishkin said.
“Consistently reaching out to students helps change our agenda, helps change where our mindset is, based on student feedback,” Mishkin said.
Mishkin said another successful portion of the platform was administrative transparency because she, and other executive branch members, have continuously communicated with administration to figure out what is going on at that level and have disseminated that to students.
The IUSG student life committee also helped to eliminate the hours when I-BUCKS were not available at the Indiana Memorial Union and remove a barrier to purchasing food, which was a part of the platform.
There are many reasons as to why some portions of the platform were not pursued or were stalled. Some were interrupted by new information which changed their course of action. Others were pushed down the agenda because new, more pressing matters popped up.
One portion of the campaign that was stalled earlier was the creation of the Middle and Near Eastern Culture Center.
This idea was included in the platform because some students communicated to the current IUSG executive branch during the campaign last semester that they did not feel completely welcome at IU.
The culture center seemed like a great solution to this problem. However, once IUSG began to pursue the project, it ran into various roadblocks which eventually caused them to stop working on this specific solution, Stein said.
“While we wanted to continue to pursue this policy, we recognized that there are other avenues that the university would be more capable of pursuing to address the problems that were originally presented to us,” Stein said.
The executive branch will continue to work with groups such as the Muslim Student Association next semester to figure out some core ideas in this issue and identify small steps that can be made to eventually help people feel at home at IU, Mishkin said.
“We recognize that this is a really big step and so much of the work that we do is identifying incremental steps to get to a big university-level change,” Mishkin said.
Another platform topic they did not pursue this semester is working to allow travel abroad programs shorter than one semester to count for students’ world-culture requirement, Mishkin said. This is something they want to look into next semester.
Since this semester IUSG was focused on student engagement and adjusting based on student opinion, some portions of the platform took a backseat because students expressed interest in other areas, IUSG chief of staff Drew Ficociello said.
One issue that popped up this semester which required IUSG attention was how IU interacts with off-campus students. In response to student tweets, emails and other messages, IUSG leaders have taken student input into account and have communicated this with public safety and other campus partners. They will continue conversations with university leaders next semester, Mishkin said.
“Our platform is ever-changing,” Ficociello said.
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