UISG backs first-generation summit



The University of Iowa Student Government on Tuesday held a lengthy debate over how much funding should be allocated to help fund the University of Iowa’s first-ever first-generation summit.

UISG voted, 60.5-39.5 percent, to allocate $55,328 to support the “I’m the First” First Generation Summit at Iowa at Tuesday night’s meeting. The event is scheduled to take place April 7 in the IMU.

The summit is a daylong event that will include speakers, breakout workshops, a resource fair to showcase campus resources for first-generation students, and a graduation ceremony for graduating first-generation students.

“I hope that this summit can create community around the identity and build mentorship among students, faculty, and staff,” UISG Vice President and first-generation student Lilián Sánchez said. “But then also be a sign to the institution that first-generation students matter, and we are trailblazers in our experiences and building a legacy on this campus.”

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The summit aims to bring awareness to first-generation students attending the UI and increase outreach and support for those students. With more than 24,000 undergraduates enrolled at the UI, around one-fourth are first-generation students. According to the bill, SSB29, 23 percent of students in the Class of 2016 were first-generation students.

Another goal of the summit is to strengthen community ties of first-generation students with first-generation graduate and professional students, staff, faculty, alumni, and other community members.

“We are trying to create a space for first-generation students to come together and talk about what it means to be first-generation, the experiences that come with being first-generation, and what kind of support we can provide to first-generation students,” UISG Sen. Nazira Coury said.

Sánchez said by creating these connections, the summit hopes to address the imposter syndrome, the feeling of inadequacy that stays despite evidence of success.

“One of the things that I’m hoping [to address is] this feeling of imposter syndrome,” Sánchez said. “That is one of the things that a lot of first-generation students experience, this idea of being the only one and experiencing hardships by yourself, and so I hope that this summit can create community [and combat that].”

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UISG estimated a budget of $66,328 for the summit. UISG, along with the Office of the Provost, Center for Diversity and Enrichment, Center for Teaching, and Tippie College of Business have partnered to put on the summit.

“My hope is that moving forward that this is only going to be a catalyst and the beginning of great initiatives to come from students and the administration in the future,” Sánchez said.

UISG Sen. Alexia Sanchez said she feels it’s important to support first-generation students because of the retention rates they have.

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