The IU Student Government Congress convened for the first time in October, and its first job was to elect a new speaker and parliamentarian. Garrett Wright, a leader from the ReviveIU coalition, was elected speaker, while Willow Johnson, from ReImagineIU, was elected as the parliamentarian.
Despite being in separate coalitions, Johnson said she’s been working well with Wright.
“On a person-to-person basis, Garrett and myself are getting along very well,” she said. “Actually, I would say the four main officers are split 50-50 between Revive and ReImagine, and we get along quite well. We were able to get to talk to each other one-on-one.”
“It was much easier to get on a common ground,” she said. “I think there are people in Revive and ReImagine who feel like they can’t agree with the other coalition. But as far as the officers go, we get along just fine.”
Johnson chose to run with ReImagineIU because of its progressive policies, such as tuition reform and sustainability, she said.
“I would definitely consider myself a progressive in general outside of IUSG,” she said. “ReImagine listed some of their issues, and I happened to agree with most of them. Environmental sustainability and making sure there’s good representation of various cultures. For me personally, LGBT+ representation is important.”
In Johnson’s view, one method of making IUSG Congress more equitable would be to define seats for multicultural groups.
“The biggest thing for me is getting multicultural seats in Congress in any way possible,” Johnson said. “I think IU is a majority white university, so our Congress and IUSG in general is also very white. It would be great if we could get different cultures and various peoples of color into the conversation.”
There are, however, some concerns that could conflict with the IUSG bylaws and constitution.
“It’s a pretty complicated issue, to be honest,” she said. “We have to set up a reapportionment of who gets what seats. We have to decide it is constitutional to have multicultural seats. It’s kind of split up into educational seats and residential seats. We might have to change that.”
The next step would be defining where those seats would come from and deciding if it is within the bounds of IUSG’s founding documents. Despite those concerns, Johnson believes there is support for the policy in the body, even from those outside her coalition.
“I think ReImagine supports it, pretty generally,” Johnson said. “I can’t speak for everybody in there. But I think it does have a lot of support, and I think even those who aren’t in ReImagine who are in Congress would agree to it to some degree. It’s just about semantics and how we are actually going to get it to work. That’s also why it’s a long process.”