Indiana Daily Student

IUSG candidates discuss mental health, tuition at town hall

<p>The sun sets Oct. 10, 2020, behind the Sample Gates. The three executive tickets for IU Student Government met to discuss their campaigns Tuesday.</p>

The sun sets Oct. 10, 2020, behind the Sample Gates. The three executive tickets for IU Student Government met to discuss their campaigns Tuesday.

The three executive tickets for IU Student Government discussed topics ranging from mental health to tuition freezes at the town hall Tuesday. The election will be April 1 and 2. 

Moderator and 1968 IUSG President Judge Edward Najam directed questions to the presidential and vice presidential candidates from Inspire IUSG, Elevate for IUSG and Legacy at IU. 

Inspire IUSG aims to eliminate transcript and graduate work fees and protect students’ fall and spring breaks. Elevate for IUSG discussed the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion training and opposed unpaid internships. Legacy at IU advocated for increased student representation in the IU Board of Trustees and highlighted the need for sexual assault prevention resources. 

Each ticket offers a different level of experience with IUSG. Juniors Dorynn Mentor and Carling Louden of Inspire IUSG have both been involved with IUSG before, while neither candidate on the Legacy at IU ticket has previously had an IUSG position. The Elevate for IUSG ticket includes junior Ky Freeman, who has no former IUSG experience, and junior Madeline Dederichs, who is a current IUSG Congress member. 

Legacy vice presidential candidate Shibani Mody and Elevate presidential candidate Freeman both said they felt their lack of experience with IUSG is an asset rather than a weakness. 

Mody said the impact of recent grassroots social movements including Black Lives Matter is an example of how change can be created by leaders speaking from personal experience. Passion is more important than experience, Mody said. 

“Anyone can learn the ropes of being in IUSG or starting a new leadership role,” Mody said. “But do you have the passion that comes with being in that leadership position that will cause you to make change?”

Despite their different backgrounds, all teams agreed on the importance of mental health. 

Elevate vice presidential candidate Dederichs said improving mental health resources at IU is her first priority. The current funding for IU Counseling and Psychological Services is insufficient, leading to costs and waitlists that make seeking help inaccessible, Dederichs said.  

“Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, we also see a pandemic of mental health struggles that a lot of us have been having to find new ways to work around,” Dederichs said. 

Inspire presidential candidate Mentor took action to help students with their mental health last semester, creating mental health first aid training for residential assistants. The Inspire ticket also advocated for mental health, said vice presidential candidate Louden who launched a petition to preserve IU’s fall and spring breaks. The petition gained over 10,000 signatures in two days. 

Another topic many candidates agreed on was the need for a tuition freeze. All tickets expressed disappointment with IU raising tuition during the pandemic and said they hoped to emulate a frozen tuition policy similar to Purdue University. 

Legacy presidential candidate Carrick Moon said the cornerstone of his campaign is increasing student representation in spaces that make decisions affecting students, such as tuition. Moon said he planned to push for additional student representation among the Board of Trustees. 

“One of the most important things we can do if we want to leave something bigger than us behind is to get more student voices instituted in the Board of Trustees to make sure that for years to come students have a proper voice in some of the most important decisions being made about our lives,” Moon said.

All teams said their ultimate goal is to represent the IU community. 

“Students are what keep this machine called IU moving, so we have to make sure that they are at the forefront,” Freeman said. “At the end of the day, that is who elects you and that is who puts you in that space, so you have to make sure that you are engaging with them.”

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