Indie candidates cover issues in UISG election

UISG independent senator candidates running for a senator seat debated each other Monday at the IMU.

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The Daily Iowan

UI student Joe Reed speaks during a debate between independent senators in the Iowa Theatre in the IMU on Monday, April 10, 2017. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Students running as independent candidates in the University of Iowa Student Government elections gathered on Monday to debate and discuss issues they are advocating for with their campaigns.The moderated debate was held in the Iowa Theatre in the IMU and six of the 13 independent candidates running debated.

Some of the issues they debated included student employees, sexual assault, sustainability, diversity, and student safety.

Current UISG president Rachel Zuckerman said it is unprecedented to have 13 candidates running independently. There are four independent seats up for grabs for the upcoming UISG legislative year, after two independent seats were added after a bill was passed earlier this year by UISG.

Moderators asked candidates questions which were submitted by UI community members. Each candidate discussed their own ideas on how they planned to address the issues that were debated.

UI Student Employment

One of the first topics discussed amongst candidates was UI student employees and what actions the candidates were prepared to take to make sure that students know the resources available to them and how they would improve working conditions and benefits for student employees.

“I think it’s important that student employees know that UISG is there to advocate for them whether it be about wages, working conditions, or their work environment,” Independent Senator candidate Cameron Cooper said.

Many of the candidates emphasized the need for open dialogue with student employees about what issues they see in their own workplace and wanting to make students are aware of what rights they have as employees.

“I think the biggest thing we need to be doing is communicating with student employees and asking them specifically what issues they see in the workplace that need to be addressed,” Indepdent Senator candidate Joe Reed said. “It’s one thing to say we want to help them but until we truly know what their concerns are we can’t make any progress [for student employees].”

 

Sexual Assault

Candidates were asked how they planned to address sexual assault on campus.

“One thing I think that is extremely important in addressing sexual assault on campus is having data to work with so we can accurately target these issues in an intelligent way. We need to know how many people are affected and in what demographics, both with perpetrators and victims,” Independent Senator candidate Kyle Scheer said.

Many other candidates pushed for expanded education on the issues of sexual assault like what it is, bystander training, and the resources available to students if they are dealing with sexual assault.

“A lot of sexual assaults happen within the dormitories and so I think that increasing training that staff within the dorms and resident assistants undergo would be necessary in addressing sexual assault on our campus,” Independent Senator candidate Lauren Phalen said.

 

Sustainability

Many candidates stated that they would advocate for an increased use of biodegradable products, the use of sustainable vendors, and that they would promote the funding and resources available to the UI community to help make events more sustainable.

“I would like to see more awareness of funding available for sustainable events. I know UISG has the Green Initiatives Fund and had I know about it when I was planning an event for my sorority, I could have made it a lot more sustainable with biodegradable products so I really want to promote that to student orgs to encourage sustainable practices,” Independent Senator candidate Jenna Pokorny said.

 

Diversity

Candidates mentioned that they would like to see more collaboration amongst student organizations to promote intersectionality and diversity.

“I think we should promote student organizations collaborating on events in order to have interactions with members of the diverse community we have at Iowa,” Independent Senator candidate Herbert A. Meisner said.

 

Student Safety

Candidates focused on off campus housing issues like lighting, universal keys, and increasing the availability of services like Nite Ride.

Voting for UISG elections will take place on April 12 and 13.

 

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