Wednesday, September 16, 2020

John Dickens is a second-year student at the University of Iowa studying Political Science and Public Health. John joined student government in Fall of 2019 as a first-year senator and will serve as the Director of Governmental Relations for the 2020-21 school year. In his role, he builds a legislative agenda on behalf of UI students, organizes voter registration efforts on campus, and attends regular meetings with our state and US representatives. Every summer, the Director of Governmental Relations also plans a tour of Iowa to build relationships with legislators from across the state. Read our interview with John to learn about how he conducted an online tour this summer:

What is USG's Legislative Tour?
Every summer, USG tours the state of Iowa to meet with legislators in their home districts! We discuss how they plan on advocating for students and present to them our state agenda. USG leads this effort ourselves, as a way to connect with our representatives and share student concerns with those in power. This year, we shifted course to a completely virtual tour, which made scheduling events across the state a little bit easier.

How do you advocate for students on the Tour?
This summer, students faced numerous challenges from COVID-19 to racial injustice to the cutting of state appropriations to our University. In our meetings with legislators, we discussed what steps we can take to ensure relief to those in financial crisis, healing for those affected by injustice, as well as concrete action plans for our state agenda. One of our areas of focus is a bill entitled the Move-In Checklist. The Checklist is a law designed to increase transparency between tenants and landlords and to protect both parties from disputes. The law would require landlords to provide and sign-off on a checklist of important information to note about the unit when moving in. When the lease is up, both parties can refer back to the agreed upon state of the unit to ensure security deposits are ending up in the right hands.

Briefly, how would you describe your role in student government?
The Director of Governmental Relations is a bridge between students and their political representatives. Not everyone has access to the resources and time needed to build and maintain relationships with numerous legislators. Our governmental relations team creates those connections in order to ensure that every student can either advocate for themselves or have someone advocating for them.

Thank you to John Dickens for his time spent answering our questions!

If you have questions or comments, please reach out to!