IU Student Government Congress outlined some of its priorities for the upcoming session in seven new advocacy agendas, which tackle issues from environmental protection to health and wellbeing across campus.
According to IUSG Speaker of Congress Jack Tyndall, advocacy agendas are a way for IUSG departments to access funding from the IUSG Board of Finance to fund different advocacy initiatives. Some of these initiatives include hosting tabling events for sustainability efforts, working with IU officials to host panels to educate students on sexual assault prevention and holding events to promote multicultural centers on campus.
“I think it’s also a pretty good representation of what we as students are advocating for,” Tyndall said. “Generally, it’s a pretty good pulse test of what things we think are big issues on campus at the moment.”
Congress Enrolled Act No. 1002, which was passed by Congress on Oct. 30, focuses on the academic affairs advocacy agenda. The agenda emphasizes the creation and promotion of various academic resources. It also highlights the importance of research by reaching out to research institutions, promoting undergraduate research programs and developing a research database. The agenda aims to enhance course exploration through a new course auditing program, improved course descriptions and a syllabi repository. The agenda also aims to address the need for a strong cyber infrastructure by advocating for the posting of recorded class lectures for students to access when they are gone through Kaltura.
A syllabi repository would store the syllabi written for each of the courses taught on campus by all of the professors who teach those courses. This would allow students access to information about a course and what they can expect from it.
“The bill had something about a syllabi repository, which I think is very important for students who are looking to sign up for a class to know exactly what they’re paying for and what they’re getting into,” committee chair of student rights and concerns, Voilet Landrum said. “I think that’s crucial to just have open information about that beforehand.”
City and Government Relations
CEA No. 1003 addresses IUSG’s city and government relations advocacy agenda. The bill addresses various student rights and concerns in areas such as affordable housing, student involvement in local government, healthcare product taxes, campus safety, menstrual product taxes, coordination with other Indiana State Student Governments, inclusive environment and student safety. Specifically, IUSG is looking to promote voter registration through tabling events and social media, increase bike lines to ensure student safety and work with real estate developers and property managers to advertise affordable housing options to students. CEA No. 1003 was passed through Congress on Nov. 6.
Communications and Outreach
Congress Bill No. 1004 focuses on IUSG’s communications and outreach. The bill would aim to improve the accessibility and visibility of the IUSG organization by evaluating branding and increasing participation from underrepresented groups by introducing new ideas and practices. Congress passed CB 1004on Nov. 13.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Sexual Violence Prevention
CEA No. 1005 addresses IUSG’s diversity, equity and inclusion and sexual violence prevention advocacy. The agenda promotes DEI training, support for LGBTQ+ students, cultural center promotion, addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia, supporting minority groups and advocating for survivor support. Specifically, the bill aims to hold administrators accountable for promises made regarding Queer Student Union endeavors including the All-Gender Restroom Inclusion Project, which has made more all-gender restrooms available and provided a Google Map of the all-gender restrooms on campus. IUSG also plans to partner with the cultural centers to raise awareness for issues multiracial and minority students face. Congress passed EA 1005 on Oct. 30.
Health and Wellbeing
CB No. 1006 focuses on health and wellbeing, and, if passed, will address mental health, accessibility, sexual assault prevention and student advocacy. Under this agenda, IUSG would promote inclusive discussions on mental health, enhance survivor support through education and collaboration, improve access to menstrual products and support students taking leaves of absence. It would also aim to expand disability support services and prioritize student safety and health services. Specifically, this bill aims to allow IUSG to work with IU officials to develop a safety app for students and support the IU Health Center in searching for and funding representative counselors for those struggling with mental health.
Student Life and Health and Wellbeing
CEA No. 1007, which authorizes the student life and health and wellbeing advocacy agenda, will allow IUSG to ensure access to nutritional food by bringing a farmers' market to campus, advocating for food variety and enhancing dining accommodations during religious holidays. IUSG wants to address food insecurity through a meal point exchange program and a centralized food pantry, alongside supporting first-generation and low-income students through financial wellness workshops and programs. The agenda advocates for pregnant and parenting students by expanding childcare support. It also offers better pay and benefits for residential programs and services staff and seeks renovations for the Indiana Memorial Union. It calls for IUSG to support international students, educates students on tenant rights, advocates for fair wages for student workers and supports the needs of students with disabilities. CEA 1007 was passed through Congress on Nov. 6.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility
CEA No. 1011 addresses IUSG’s sustainability advocacy agenda, which promotes campus sustainability and environmental responsibility. The bill focuses on reducing non-biodegradable waste, working with IU administrators on the Climate Action Plan, increasing real food options, improving recycling, expanding the campus farm and fostering partnerships with sustainable companies. IUSG also plans to introduce recycling programs in Greek housing, create an inclusive environment, promote sustainable landscaping, ensure access to sustainable menstrual products and authorize funding for policy departments.
“One of them is a bill I’m working on and that is talking about the implementation of rain gardens, which I can kind of narrow down to incorporating these species back into IU’s campus,” Landrum said about important aspects discussed in the Sustainability Agenda. “It’s a very long-term solution to a lot of rainwater issues we might have been having on campus.”
According to the United States Environmental Program Agency, a rain garden is an area of landscape that is planted with flowers and grass and collect rainwater and allows it to soak into the ground.
All approved advocacy agendas are scheduled to expire Oct. 31, 2024.
“Having these expire creates a good opportunity for us to work with the executive branch in future years to figure out what they want,” Recorder Aidan Chism said during Monday night’s meeting.