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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Student congress connects Iowa campus governments

Students from colleges across the state of Iowa are coming together under the auspices of an organization called Iowa Student Congress.

SGA voted to ratify the Congress’ new constitution at Joint Board this Wednesday, pending final approval at a second vote next week.

The Congress is a resource through which students across the state can voice their concerns and ideas to the state legislative bodies.

“Instead of having to go through the Democrats or the Republicans to talk to the state House, we could theoretically go through a student organization,” said SGA President Ben Offenberg’11. “So it’s kind of like a lobbying group, if that makes sense.”

The Iowa Student Congress has actually been around for roughly three years and is supported by state universities and liberal arts colleges in Iowa. Meetings are held twice a year, during the fall and spring semesters. It is organized into five regions, based on the districts of Iowa’s House representatives. Each district elects a regional representative who serves on the Executive Council. Kate from Briar Cliff currently represents Grinnell’s district.

“It’s just another leadership track,” Offenberg said. “If you don’t want to have to run for SGA President or be on cabinet, there are a lot of opportunities within this organization to be on their cabinet.”

Members of SGA at Grinnell are looking forward to the opportunity presented by this collaborative effort to strengthen bonds between schools.

“In some ways Grinnell can become kind of isolated,” said Senator Josh Wassink ’13. “This is a cool opportunity to just network with other schools and … be exposed to … other student governments.” Compared to similar organizations, the Iowa Student Congress requires a very small membership fee (under $100) and a limited time commitment. Even if it doesn’t fulfill every expectation, SGA thinks it is worth the small price to see what will happen.

“We don’t know what possibilities will arise out of being involved and the cost of finding out is essentially nil,” said Wassink. “So it’s kind of a cool opportunity to explore.”
Offenberg agrees, indicating that the possible benefits for the campus far outweigh the cost.

Grinnell’s involvement in the Iowa Student Congress could affect the structure of SGA and its many branches. It would give Grinnell student leaders the opportunity to compare the current operational procedures to those at our peer institutions. Offenberg suggests that sharing these types of ideas may help SGA as it negotiates matters such as student representatives on the Committee of Academic Standing.

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