Ben Nelson, left, and Katherine Baer, right, members of the UISG ticket Empower Iowa speak to the Daily Iowa editorial staff in the Adler Journalism Building on Monday, March 19, 2018. Empower Iowa is one of four groups on the ticket for the 2018-19 year UISG elections. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Editorial: DI endorses Empower Iowa for student government


Empower Iowa’s experience and comprehensive solutions make it the most qualified for UI Student Government.

Four tickets are running for University of Iowa Student Government: Empower Iowa, Student Collective Party, UI Surge Party, and Envision Iowa.

All four tickets have their merits, ranging in experience and innovative ideas. They address similar hot-button campus issues: affordability, accessibility to UISG, diversity. The Daily Iowan has decided to endorse Empower Iowa because we believe with its unparalleled experience and thorough plans, its members will most effectively turn ideas into action.

Empower Iowa is led by presidential candidate Ben Nelson and vice-presidential candidate Nate Robinson. They and their 29 senatorial candidates have more than 30 combined years in student government, are involved with more than 60 campus organizations, and have written 37 pieces of legislation.

Empower Iowa has the most incumbent UISG members on the ticket, which may be unsettling to those who feel a change to the status quo is needed. But the party wants to ensure students are heard by inviting underrepresented groups to committee meetings, providing surveys each semester, and inviting students to weekly open-access presentations. Nelson best explained the party’s philosophy on candidate experience at the presidential debate on Sunday.

“What experience teaches you is where the organization has been, and what mistakes it’s made, and where it can go moving forward … We have [also] brought in experienced student leaders [to our ticket] who have proven themselves elsewhere.”

RELATED: Empower Iowa brings experience, perspective to UISG campaign

One of those student leaders is vice-presidential candidate Nate Robinson. He works as a Black Student Success Coordinator in the Office of the Vice President for Student Life and as a resident assistant. He will bring a needed institutional perspective to the cultural centers, advocating for Supplemental Instruction tutors and an increase in the number of workshops and visits from professionals. He intrinsically understands the importance of representation in helping students succeed.

This experience in and out of student government is evident in the party’s extensive list of an estimated 50 platform initiatives and 100 solutions. One very practical initiative aims to address the transparency of sexual-assault policies at the UI by centralizing information for survivors online. The website would distinguish confidential and nonconfidential resources, as well as provide a simple timeline for seeking help from the Women’s Resource & Action Center, Rape Victim Advocacy Program, and the UI police.

Nelson’s experience as UISG city liaison will be invaluable to addressing off-campus housing and transportation; Iowa City landlords have historically taken advantage of student tenants, and Cambus routes are limited. Empower Iowa’s initiatives in this area include advocating for background checks for landlords, redistricting Cambus routes through collaboration with Iowa City Transit, and creating a crosswalk on Madison Street in front of the IMU.

These are just a few of Empower Iowa’s many achievable ideas, all of which set the party apart because of its feasibility and comprehensiveness. The ticket’s website also has a space for students to submit ideas, a small token of the outreach the members have demonstrated throughout the campaign and have committed to continuing if elected.

RELATED: Guest opinion: Vote Empower Iowa

Whomever you choose to support, student government should represent the student body. Voter turnout for UISG elections in the last few years has been meager. According to statistics given at the presidential debate, 30 percent of students voted in 2015, 13 percent in 2016, and just 12 percent in 2017. UISG is in charge of allocating the student-activity fees to campus organizations, services, and initiatives (that’s $1.872 million it shares with the Graduate & Professional Student Government). The DI encourages all students to vote on MyUI today and Thursday.

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