Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: A Black IUSG president elect is a win for all underrepresented students

<p>IU Student Government President-elect Ky Freeman is pictured. Freeman is the first Black IUSG president since 2010. Correction: A previous version of this caption incorrectly listed the timeframe since the last Black IUSG president.</p>

IU Student Government President-elect Ky Freeman is pictured. Freeman is the first Black IUSG president since 2010. Correction: A previous version of this caption incorrectly listed the timeframe since the last Black IUSG president.

On April 6, the IU Student Government Election Commission announced the preliminary results for the 2021-22 IUSG student body president and vice president. This election was filled with contention, including more than 24 election complaints filed by the three campaigns running for executive office.

The Inspire IUSG campaign was disqualified April 6 after being found to have committed four election violations. Based on the preliminary results, Elevate for IUSG won the election with 2,699 votes and Legacy at IU finished second with 1,772 votes.

[Related: Inspire would’ve won IUSG election if ticket wasn’t disqualified, preliminary vote totals show]

While this election cycle created more than 20 election complaints, it is remarkable to note the next IUSG president-elect is a Black student. Ky Freeman’s win is not just a win for the Black community but for other marginalized and underrepresented students on campus. 

This election marks 10 years since the last Black IU student body president, Michael Coleman, was elected into office in 2010.

According to data released for the 2019-20 academic year, Black students make up less than 7% of the IU-Bloomington Campus. Minority students represent less than 25% of the campus. Having a student who identifies with multiple underrepresented identities as the next IUSG president is an achievement everyone should acknowledge as a point of progress for the university. 

[Related: Read our student government coverage here.]

Freeman, alongside IU junior Madeleine Dederichs, said on Elevate’s social media accounts that they ran because they believe IUSG has fallen short of the values it champions, such as engaging with innovative groups on campus. 

Among the list of plans Freeman ran on during his campaign, he plans to advocate to raise the campus minimum wage to $15 an hour and increase visibility, awareness, and presence of gender neutral restrooms.

IU junior and IUSG congress representative Ashley Elane said it feels monumental for Freeman to have won the IUSG election. 

“It means a lot to me,” Elane said. “I am happy that a minority student is now in this position that not only cares for minority students but other people as well.”

Elane said there is still work to be done at IU but believes the university is progressing. 

“IU is moving in a direction that can help the students that come after us,” Elane said. “My time is almost up, and I hope whatever Ky does will help make minority students’ lives easier because it is really hard being here at IU as a minority student.”

[Related: OPINION: IU Student Government isn’t worth the drama. It could be.]

Elane said she feels IUSG does not hold much power at the moment, but is hopeful for the progress the organization will make for students going forward.

“I hope other minority students coming into IU see the representation and see how hard we have been working and trying to bring them in, especially in a system that was not created for them,” Elane said. 

While representation is a good thing, it is also important for individuals in a position of power to honor the needs of their constituents, Elane said. She said she believes Freeman and Dederichs   have track records, such as aiding the Rainbow Coalitions’ initiatives and Freeman’s leadership within the Black Student Union, which display their dedication to advocating for all IU students. 

The next step in the election process is for Freeman and Vice President-elect Madeleine Dederichs’ win to be confirmed by the IU Supreme Court. 

While IU Student Government has been in existence for more than 100 years, this year's election has shown when students stand together, progress will come.   

UPDATE: This article was updated to refelct that Elane is a member of the IUSG Congress.

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