Five students to run for a 2021 USG Independent Senator position

Seven seats are available for independent senators. This year’s University Student Government election begins on Monday and wraps up on April 8


Ayrton Breckenridge

University of Iowa Student Government office door as seen on Jan. 26.

Caitlin Crome, News Reporter

Five students are running as independent senators in the 2021 Undergraduate Student Government elections for seven available seats.

Those students are Joshua Brown, Lauren Salloum, Zachary Springer, Camden Studer, and Andrew Froemel, according to ballot information provided by USG Student Elections Commissioner Andy Swiston.

The senate is broken up into three major shops, Swiston said. Students can run for constituency positions, on a party ticket, or as independent senators.

Independent senators are those who are running but not arguing for a specific party, Swiston said, and there are seven seats available.

This year, since only five students are running for an independent senator position, meaning all should make it in. However, Swiston said the students have to at least reach a 5 percent voting threshold.

He added that normal student campaign practices are not permitted this year because of COVID-19, such as in-person tabling. But this year’s campaigns have moved mainly to social media posts, he said.

“I know masks are being given out this year,” Swiston said. “That is a good material to kind of brand your campaign and get your name out there.”

Students can vote online through the Engage online platform, Swiston said. The voting period starts Monday at 9 a.m., and then voting closes April 8 at 5 p.m. The Daily Iowan reached out to the five independent senator candidates, but two were immediately available for an interview.

RELATED: USG constituency senatorial candidates pursue seats to represent First Generation, LGBTQ+, and Veteran students

University of Iowa second-year student Camden Studer said the main reason he is running for an independent senator position is best summed up in his campaign pitch, “Running for You”.

Studer is very involved on campus already, serving as a Resident Assistant in Currier Residence Hall and the Magic Maker Coordinator for A Moment of Magic nationwide nonprofit.

A Moment of Magic assigns college students a different character then the students visit medically vulnerable children in hospitals and camps to uplift their spirits, he said.

Choosing to run for USG independently, Studer said it would help him better represent the student body because he could run on his own platform. Running on a ticket with a party, to him, enforces the idea that he has to align his ideas with the ticket’s decisions.

“I also kind of feel tickets and parties do not necessarily allow for growth,” Studer said. “As an independent, I do not have to worry about the others around me. But if I am on the ticket or the party and want to change my stance, it may be completely opposite of what the ticket’s platform was.”

His main goal is getting students involved in on-campus decisions by providing students with more information about different organizations and opportunities for leadership in the UI.

“If you think about the most impactful people on this campus for the student body, it is the administration and the president of the university. Every decision that they make falls back on us in some way or another,” Studer said. “I think students’ voices need to be heard more in that process and actually have a say in that process. Whether that’s simply filling out a survey or getting to vote on who the next president is, I think that would be a serious goal I want to accomplish.”

UI second-year student Zachary Springer, who is a double major in Economics and Political Science on the pre-law track, said with this being his first semester running for USG, he did not know much about the organization, and felt running independently was the best way to get his foot in the door.

“I didn’t really want to jump on a ticket I didn’t know much about, so I thought I would run as an independent this year,” Springer said.

He said he wanted to learn more about government and the process at the university level and start at the basics, along with making valuable changes on campus.

Outside of USG, he currently works as a Tippie College of Business learning coach, is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, and volunteers at the Salvation Army.

Springer said his main pitch for his ticket is inclusivity, with main goals of increasing inclusivity for people with mental illness and disabilities, as well as involving students more on campus.

“Inclusivity on campus is such a broad reaching term and it is impossible to encompass all of that, and that is why I am narrowing my focus into those two particular things,” he said.

Springer said the UI does a good job including students with disabilities and mental health illnesses but thinks there is room for improvement, such as advertising resources.

Springer added he wants to encourage students to become more socially active on campus, emphasize the importance of networking, and advertise student organization, internship, and job fairs more.

“We host tons of events, but as far as how many students actually go to them, probably not a ton,” he said. “I just want to do more to encourage all these great resources that we have and bring more recognizable names that will really encourage people to get involved.”