From left: Nate Robinson, Ben Nelson, and Katherine Baer, 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)

Guest Opinion: UISG candidates offer perspectives as RAs

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Two Empower Iowa candidates plan to use their knowledge as RAs to improve the residence hall experience.

University of Iowa Resident Assistants are often known to be the first major resource for many students as they enter their first years on campus. From providing resources and information to acting in a supporting role for many transitioning in college, serving as an RA often offers a more insightful perspective on the college experience and ways it can be improved upon. We have both have had the humbling opportunity to serve as RAs in Petersen Hall and believe we have a unique perspective on campus life after serving in these roles.

As RAs, one of our foremost roles is to create a community for our residents to allow them a safe space in which to freely express themselves. Similarly, some of the main goals that the residence halls work to achieve are ensuring that all students feel safe and comfortable in their living environment. This is especially important for first-year college students to ensure that they feel supported in their transition. Additionally, RAs and all members of the University Housing & Dining staff strive to create a community in which all students feel that they belong. We know that there can be many difficult aspects of the transition to college, and we want to do our best to help students feel supported and included as they take on challenges.

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RAs strive to help students feel that that they belong to and fit in with the UI community. RAs may do this by hosting floor events, planning Living Learning Community programs, and having personal conversations with residents to connect them with necessary resources. By living on the same floor as our residents, we are able to build close relationships. RAs act as outlets for our residents’ voices to be heard and for their concerns to be addressed, allowing us to serve as advocates to make the residence-hall experience the best it can be.

Empower Iowa has many goals that align with Housing & Dining to ensure that students are safe, comfortable, and confident as they begin their academic careers at the UI. For example, both Housing & Dining and Empower Iowa want all students to feel included and accepted, regardless of what identities they are. Empower Iowa has developed numerous initiatives that will help students feel that their identities are accepted and that their needs are accounted for. These initiatives include creating a map of all gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, making sharps disposal containers more accessible throughout campus, and providing more feminine hygiene products free of charge to students. We hope to collaborate with Housing & Dining to explore even more ways to effectively provide these resources throughout residence halls.

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The Empower Iowa team also recognizes that one of the main benefits of living in the residence halls is the physical proximity to campus resources. Hosuing & Dining currently provides a wide range of resources for students in the residence halls, ranging from tutoring to a nutrition specialist to embedded counselors. Empower Iowa hopes to partner with Housing & Dining to continue expanding these resources and bring even more to students in the residence halls. Some of our platform initiatives include advocating for more embedded counselors, increasing the amount of campus composting that occurs in residence-hall rooms, and expanding upon the relationship that Housing & Dining has built.

Through our work as RAs, we have developed an immense amount of knowledge about the resources that can help students succeed at the University of Iowa. As members of the Empower Iowa team, we hope to apply our knowledge to expand those resources and continue to dedicate our time to growing student success. It is important that you make your voice heard. We encourage you to read more about our team at empoweriowa.org and vote on March 28 and March 29 on MyUI.

Jordan Hansen and Hunter Alred

Empower Iowa candidates

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