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IU Student Government plans semester of new programs and initiatives



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Members of the IU Student Government meet Jan. 21 in the Indiana Memorial Union activities tower. IUSG's new plans include increasing voting registration, expressing concerns about IU-Notify and planning equity training for staff. Izzy Myszak

Members of the IU Student Government Executive Branch have outlined major goals and initiatives they plan to achieve this semester, including increasing voting registration, expressing concerns about IU-Notify, and planning equity training for staff.

Last semester, IUSG prioritized student data collection. IUSG ran data surveys on topics such as student use of on-campus computers and how students use exercise facilities

IUSG members are now using the data collected from the surveys and the Student Body Congress to make decisions on initiatives and programs for this semester and beyond said Student Body President and senior Isabel Mishkin. 

“This is the moving forward time," Maiya Cook, director of equity and inclusion said. "This is the time to show what we’ve been collecting data for.”

The surveys are meant to gain a better sense of student opinions, Mishkin said. 

Increasing voter registration is one of the top goals for IUSG, Mishkin said. Director of student life and senior Madeline Dederichs said they want to make sure students register, have bipartisan education in major issues and candidates and actually go out to vote. 

IUSG partnered with IU's Political and Civic Engagement Program (PACE) in fall of 2018 to increase the percentage of students who vote at IU.IUSG plans to continue working with them through this upcoming election year.

Mishkin said IUSG is partnering with the third-party organization to receive software making it easier to register students to vote, find absentee ballots or look up voting locations.

Mishkin said IUSG also plans to partner with multiple university offices to make voter registration a cross-campus push, but the partnership has not been finalized. 

Another goal is improving safety on campus, especially regarding IU-Notify. IUSG has tried to gain a better understanding of the IU mass communication system with a series of meetings with IUPD over the past year, Dederichs said.

Dedriches said the meetings with IUPD help to understand how and when the alerts are used. They learned about how the notifications are used, including the differnces between emergency alerts, crime notices and public safety advisories.

“What we would really like to see is the use of public safety advisories a little bit more liberally,” Dederichs said.

Public Safety Advisories are notifications from the university that give information about crimes and safety concerns that occur outside of campus, represent a continuing threat and are not reported by the Clergy Act, according to the Protect IU website.

Cook said one of her goals is to grow the United Council for Equity. The council started this year and currently acts as a support group, according to Cook.

Cook said the council currently speaks about biases and difficulties certain identities experience. She said she hopes to grow the council to include more members and branch out to be more of a town hall setting.

The committee has sent invitations to leaders and active members of identity organizations on campus to consider attending the council. Cook said more information on the council will be released in late spring or early fall. 

Equity training for faculty members is another area Cook’s committee has been trying to affect, Cook said. A workshop could have staff brainstorm and create proposals that would make their students more comfortable in their classrooms.

“That is basically just making sure that staff is aware of diverse issues and diverse topics of their students,” Cook said.

Cook said the first planning meeting will be in February.

Director of Health and Wellness and sophomore Jordan Davis said the IU Health Center will introduce new programs later this semester in partnership with the IUSG. 

“Our goal as an administration is to not to do little quick fixes," Davis said. "We want all of our projects to last well beyond our time in office.”

Other initiatives she spoke of for this semester include creating a preference forum for students who chose to have a random roommate and putting hygiene products in all bathrooms. Davis said there is no timeline yet for either project, but IUSG contacted multiple campus offices have been contacted to initiate.

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