Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, answers questions at a Town Hall meeting in the Iowa Memorial Union on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. The crowd was filled with energetic and concerned voters from all political affiliations. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

UI United Nations Association writes to congressional representatives

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The UI chapter of the Iowa U.N. Association held its first letter campaign on Monday.

By Brooklyn Draisey

brooklyn-draisey@uiowa.edu

Some constituents have had enough.

The University of Iowa chapter of the Iowa U.N. Association is striving to get its voice heard in Congress.

The association held its first letter campaign on Monday to give students the opportunity to tell congressional representatives what their constituents care about.

The focus of this campaign was the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and why the United States should continue to support them.

The core members of the UI group and one student decided to write one letter as a whole, and they will send it to Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Reps. Rod Blum, David Young, and Steve King, R-Iowa.

The organization will also send a thank-you letter to Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, for his support of the U.N.

“Sending a thank-you letter to someone for supporting something you support makes a huge difference … I’m sure they get a lot of angry letters, and it’s nice to send a good one,” UI freshman Maya Simon said.

There are 16 goals that countries around the globe have adopted, which include climate action, reduced inequality, and zero hunger. The goals were adopted on Sept. 25, 2015.

Each goal has specific criteria, such as preventing and reducing marine pollution of all kinds, and the U.N. plans to meet all of the criteria by 2030.

In the UI group’s letter, some of the main points involved gender equality, education, and climate action, and participants in the event wanted to write about how each goal was important to them.

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Chapter President Alexa Sandon said they decided to use these global goals as prompts for their letter because they efficiently encompass everything both the U.N. and the UI association care about.

“There are so many things that the U.N. is involved in, so [the goals] are just a really good summary statement for what they’re trying to do,” Sandon said.

Simon learned about the meeting through an email and attended to let her voice be heard about the issues she cares about, primarily climate change. After the United States pulled out of the Paris Agreement, a U.N. agreement dealing with greenhouse-gas-emission mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year 2020, both Simon and the UI association want to ensure that the U.S. government still tries to make the country a better place.

“I’ve become very passionate about environmental issues, so I wanted to have more of a role in that,” she said.

The organization members also wrote about the work they have done in Johnson County, such as working with refugees and other events they’ve held. 

Sandon noted that a physical letter would make a difference in the amount of attention it gets, because emails can easily be lost in the pile.

“I think the time and involvement a written letter has makes it different, because people get thousands of emails every day, but having a physical object to hold in front of you can definitely make a difference,” she said.

The most important goal of this letter is to get the public’s voice heard, co-leader for social media and outreach Ariana Nikic said.

“It’s really nice for Congress to see that people care, because if no one’s saying anything, then they won’t be aware and just make their own decisions, and some people’s decisions change based on public opinion,” Nikic said.

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