Independent senator candidates highlight platforms in run for Undergraduate Student Government

In the wake of classes moving online and campus culture changing, four University of Iowa Students are running for student government senator positions on an independent platform.


Emily Wangen

University of Iowa Student Government Senators listen to a presentation during a meeting in the IMU on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019.

Lauren White, News Reporter

Four independent senatorial candidates are vying for seats in the Undergraduate Student Government election, meaning they’re running without a ticket affiliation.

The independent senator role is intended to make USG more accessible to students. Students running for independent senator positions spoke to The Daily Iowan to discuss their goals and reasons for running. The four students running are Sire Abram, Joycelyn Joberdom, Joshua Brown, and Yara Moustafa.

Voting in the USG election is available online through students’ MyUI portals. Undergraduate students can vote for an executive ticket, senatorial tickets, constituency senators, and independent senators to make up the student government body for the 2020-21 academic year.

Sire Abram, a third-year Tippie College of Business student said that he wanted to run because he saw that there were many promises made within the organization that were not kept, and the current student-government platform was ignoring beneficial resources.

“In the past when people have voiced concerns and opinions, nothing has been done about their problems,” Abram said. “I want to make students feel heard and execute these solutions rather than just discuss them.”

Abram said that he wants to create events surrounding student government that could interest and engage students, as well as actively seek out the voices of underrepresented and underheard communities.

“I want to do things differently, and against the grain in the benefit of the students to make sure they understand what student government is doing and how it can help,” Abram said.

Joycelyn Jorbedom, a second-year College of Public Health student, said that there is a problem with clarity and accessibility within the current student government that she would aim to fix.

RELATED: University of Iowa undergraduate student government election goes online

Jorbedom said she is running as an independent because it is easier to stick to her concerns and goals through that platform. She said she wants students to know exactly what she feels is important.

“My biggest goal would be for students to understand how many scholarships are actually available to them and how the process really works,” Jorbedom said. “There are so many unclaimed scholarships that students pass up because of the confusion.”

Third-year business-college student Yara Moustafa said she was planning on running on the Impact ticket and still actively supports the campaign, while running on an independent ballot was actually a mistake and a miscommunication in the election process.

“They have a lot of good ideas and I support them,” Moustafa said. “I’m not worried about running as an independent, I feel as though I have pretty good name recognition on campus and the election isn’t that competitive this year.”

If elected, Moustafa said, she would advocate for a universal testing standard in the Tippie College of Business that would help mitigate cheating. She would also aim to implement Elements of Success, a program that tells students where they sit grade-wise in a curved class.

“Although I’ll be a senior next year, I plan on getting my master’s at Iowa and want to see how the work my peers and I are doing come to fruition,” Moustafa said. “The committees are run by individuals who are extremely knowledgeable about their respective committee and they have taught me a lot. I look forward to being advocates for them, and them do the same for me.”

Joshua Brown, a second-year public-health student, said that he is running because he wants to give proper representation to all identities on campus and encouraged students to get involved.

A major goal that Brown would push for with his senate seat, would be to allot a specific, class-free time every semester to the student involvement and job fair in order to increase the accessibility of the events.

“I want to do what I can to help people. And I think running for this seat is the best way to accomplish that,” Brown said.

Students need to know, Jorbedom said, that the UI student government works for them and that student desires need to be met, so the student body should reach out with concerns and problems.

“UISG is, in fact, approachable and for the students — it isn’t for just a select group of people,” Jorbedom said. “Even small personal complaints should be voiced so that senators can be aware of what the community thinks and to see perspective and ideas from all communities.”

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