USG’s Executive and Senatorial tickets kick off election, voting to end April 2

As the University of Iowa’s Undergraduate Student Government’s voting period for the 2020-2021 administration begins, the executive and senatorial tickets give their platform for changes they hope to make, if elected.

Contributed

Contributed

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter


Amid changes at the University of Iowa as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government election began Sunday night for the unopposed executive ticket and senatorial candidates.

Uncontested presidential candidate Connor Wooff and uncontested vice-presidential candidate Mara Smith said that circumstances brought about by the novel coronavirus are unprecedented and impact how the pair will serve students in the 2020-21 academic year.

Voting in the election is available via students’ MyUI portals through April 2.

Wooff, the current USG director of governmental relations, said that COVID-19 affects students in different ways, so they will focus on reacting and assisting students in different ways too.

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“We will continue to support students through the Emergency Support Fund and look for alternative ways to ensure that [the university] is still providing various things such as lots for WiFi and things like that,” he said. “Once elected, we will be open and transparent about what we are working on. We will make sure to hear feedback from students … and focus on all the communities that have been impacted … We are here for [students].”

Smith, the current student life committee chair, said that this time of confusion and uncertainty about what campus will look like in the coming months will impact the way her and Wooff serve students, saying that they will focus on how they can help students from every walk of life.

“It’s hard to say what fall will look like at this point because every single day, something changes,” Smith said. “Asking specific communities about what they need from us and taking that feedback is really important. [COVID-19] has never happened to anybody before so it’s hard to say exactly what we can do, but we will be very open and transparent about what we can do.”

Wooff and Smith are looking toward the future consequences of the pandemic, they said, and are prepared to fight for affordability when it comes to UI tuition both on campus and at the capitol.

“USG has been working on this for a long time and [tuition] appropriations always feels like an uphill battle,” Wooff said. “I think this year this conversation is very relevant. Students need support financially and working with the administration. Fighting for affordability is a huge part of our priorities. This year we want to develop a big tuition-education campaign to show legislators the real impact that tuition increases have on the student body.”

Another focus of the executive ticket is an increase in student engagement with USG, Smith said, particularly in regard to student organizations. She said they will implement a student-organization-specific newsletter to make USG more accessible while avoiding an overload of information.

Wooff said that him and Smith want to host more student listening sessions with specific communities who may have varying experiences on campus. He said making USG services known will allow more students to be involved with and benefitted by USG.

Even though the university’s shift to off-campus learning and the extension of spring break is likely to decrease turnout for this election, Smith said she is excited to work on projects inside and outside of classrooms to ensure USG is supporting students to the best of its ability.

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“We will show up for students when it matters,” she said. “We will show that we are here for them in shared experiences and with the administration.”

After USG changed election bylaws in December 2019, its executive and senatorial tickets were separated. There are two senatorial tickets running in this year’s election, Connect Iowa and Impact Iowa.

If all of the senators reach the minimum threshold of votes in the election, Wooff said, they will be able to serve in the fall. This is because there are 30 senator spots open and Connect Iowa has four candidates, while Impact Iowa has 14 students on their ticket.

Connect Iowa’s platform is focused on initiatives that focus on equity, sustainability, accessibility, and affordability. Impact Iowa’s platform is focused on the eight different committees that senators can serve on while in USG.

Wooff urged students to inform themselves in this and every other student-government election. He said he is looking forward to listening to more students and making USG available to all students.

“It’s important students know who is running because… [students] give student government money to spend on their behalf,” Wooff said. “It’s important they know where their money is going. It’s important to know who is making decisions on their behalf. Mara and I will make students proud. We have put forward really ambitious and realistic ideas to prioritize. We will work hard for them every day.”

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