Katherine Valde, UISG
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As an Iowa City native, I grew up with the University of Iowa in my backyard. When it came time to make my college selection, I surprised everyone, myself included, by choosing the UI after receiving a Presidential Scholarship. I realized that the University of Iowa offered a combination of quality and affordability that I couldn’t find elsewhere, and I can now say with full confidence that it was the best decision that I could have made for myself.
I became involved with University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) early in my first semester of college after I was selected to serve as one of five freshman senators. I was appointed to the executive branch the following year, working as the Governmental Relations Liaison.
In that role, I spearheaded the “Voting is Sexy” campaign during the 2012 elections to register students to vote, hosted a debate watch for more than 300 students, and organized outreach efforts to support the proposed in-state tuition freeze. This position allowed me the opportunity to advocate at the state capitol, meet frequently with state legislators, and learn the importance of strong student voices that project not solely within Johnson County but across the entire state.
I came to the decision to run for president of UISG with Jack Cumming as vice president because we felt that our time spent growing up in Iowa City allowed us to synthesize a lifetime’s worth of knowledge of the problem areas that exist on campus and our understanding of solutions that UISG is best equipped to offer.
We formed a party ticket with 39 fellow undergraduate student leaders under the name the HOUSE Party, an acronym for Helping Our University and Students Engage. This name encapsulated the heart of our campaign and rooted us in our mission to enable students to engage with every aspect of campus and student life.
Our 20-point platform stretched from issues of academic affairs to diversity to sustainability to safety to the everyday student experience. Our ideas vary from simple fixes, such as implementing a computer charger checkout station in the Main Library, to comprehensive projects like providing uniform template websites to all student organizations and installing a pilot short-term bicycle share program on campus.
I am looking forward to working on a platform that engages not just the undergraduate body, but the university community at large.
In addition to fostering solutions to meet the student needs we identified through our platform, I am also excited to continue to be an active advocate for students at the legislative level. I believe that it is important to continue the conversation and stress the importance of an affordable education.
After two hectic weeks of campaigning, I was proud to see 27 percent of undergraduates, or 5,651 students, vote in this year’s UISG elections, the highest turnout in my three years as a student. I look forward to sustaining this momentum to accomplish our campaign’s goals over the course of the next year and using my privileges of time and access to resources to advocate for all students.
Ultimately, my hope is to make these small, but impactful improvements with the help of a committed Senate and Executive Board that will leave campus behind in a slightly better position than when I arrived.