Student body leaders emphasize priorities with state lawmakers
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Photo of Jack Cumming (undergrad Vice President), Katherine Valde (undergrad president), Ben Gillig (president of the graduate and professional student body), and Carter Bell (undergrad governmental relations director).
University of Iowa student leaders engage with government leaders. Pictured, from left: Jack Cumming (undergraduate vice president), Katherine Valde (undergraduate president), Ben Gillig (graduate and professional student body president), and Carter Bell (undergraduate governmental relations director).

University of Iowa student leaders met with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds last week to discuss college affordability and job opportunities for Iowa students.

Katherine Valde, the undergraduate student body president, and Ben Gillig, the president of the graduate and professional student body, thanked the governor for his help in making the undergraduate resident tuition freeze possible next year.

“Affordability is a major priority for all Iowa students, and the tuition freeze is a large part of that effort,” says Valde.

Undergraduate Student Body Vice President Jack Cumming, who also attended the meeting, adds, "We had a good conversation about the things that the tuition freeze has accomplished, and how to maintain affordability in years to come.”

Valde noted that affordability sets Iowa universities apart from peer institutions around the nation.

“We are one of the only major universities in the country to implement a tuition freeze at the same time that other institutions are raising tuition drastically,” Valde says.

Graduate and Professional Student Body President Ben Gillig asked state leaders to help build a pipeline to connect graduates of Iowa universities to in-state workforce opportunities.

“Iowa has an aging workforce,” Gillig says, “but we continue to lose many of our best-educated graduates to other states. We need a way to connect students educated here in Iowa with job opportunities that will keep them in-state.”

The governor and student leaders had a productive discussion about the role that Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Economic Development Authority might play in establishing a database of in-state work opportunities. The discussion also covered potential tax incentives the state could make available to students that stay in the state.

“It was a very productive discussion,” Gillig says, “and we look forward to continuing to work with the governor and lieutenant governor on these important issues.”

UI student leaders will be conducting a series of meetings with state legislators from across the state in the next few weeks to discuss these and other issues important to UI students. Student leaders will also help plan a campus visit by Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds during the fall semester.