By Elianna Novitch
The University of Iowa Student Government held its constituency senator elections this week.
UISG reserves seven seats in the Senate for constituency senators.
Three constituency senators competed in elections in their various communities, and four others were elected by student organizations.
The three elected constituency senators include Asian constituency Sen. Sanjeev Thangarajah, Latinx constituency Sen. Emiliano Martinez, and LGBTQIA+ constituency Sen. Jon Seedorff.
The student organizations that elect the remaining constituency senators include the Black Student Union, Native American Student Association, Student Disability Organization, and UI Veterans Association.
A constituency senator is an undergraduate student who is elected on behalf of one of seven represented constituencies to voice the concerns of that community in UISG.
“I think it is so important to have those underrepresented groups overrepresented in government, where they can have their voice,” said UI student Ang Benda. “It’s necessary. Having that ability to have a connection and a source to get their voices heard.”
“These communities have historically been marginalized, so UISG wants to take proactive steps to ensure that all students on campus are represented fully via a liaison [or] a member of their community in UISG,” said Student Elections Commissioner Alisha McTaggart in an email statement to The Daily Iowan.
Rather than managing the broad range of student issues that at-large senators handle, constituency senators, in addition to what the at-large senators work on, address all issues that arise in their community and advocate for action that the community would like to see from UISG.
“Their issues are very important to me,” Seedorff said. “I want the community to be united together and feel free to have their voice represented through me.”
Seedorff ran against two other candidates in the LGBTQIA+ constituency-senator election.
Some past projects and legislation that were completed by previous UISG constituency senators include bringing together communities to discuss issues related to the cultural and resource centers, passing legislation that resolved to stand in solidarity with the No Dakota Access Pipeline Movement, and passing legislation to stand in solidarity with undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival students at the UI and supporting the continuation of DACA through the BRIDGE Act.
While the UISG website states that constituency senators are not intended to be the all-encompassing voice of their respective constituencies, it also recognizes that they are elected to engage with their constituency and make decisions according to what they believe will best serve their communities.
“I’m excited to see the ever-evolving process of electing constituency senators continue to develop in the years to come to accommodate to constituencies and their specific needs,” McTaggart said in an email to the DI.