During the Student Government presidential debate, more than 111 questions were submitted to the candidates. The debate also bypassed closing statements. In an effort for the students to still hear back from the candidates on their questions, the Iowa State Daily provided each of the candidates with the questions in full, allowing them to address the questions they see fit. The Iowa State Daily also offered candidates to submit their closing statements. Below is some of the unanswered debate questions and closing statement from Student Government presidential candidate Cody Woodruff.
How do you propose Student Government boosts Cyclone pride and a sense of community at Iowa State?
Student Government is uniquely positioned to bring people together and celebrate Iowa State and the Cyclones across our campus, and we have a responsibility to do so. Big Block of Cheese Day is a great example of how we want to bring more voices into the process, listening to the stories of others, and bringing Cyclones together. Our advocacy on the issue of trademark also highlights how we want to ensure students still have a strong sense of identity with the organizations and university they’re a part of.
People seemingly keep trying to undervalue experience in Student Government and how it can contribute to certain positions. How do you think experience is beneficial to the role of President? Do you think there’s validity to the comments that experience can be harmful?
Experience is absolutely vital to the role of President. Knowing the institutions of both Student Government and our university is crucial to being successful in the role. I’ve been honored to serve in Student Government for three years, and the knowledge I’ve learned and connections I’ve gained are incredibly valuable to serve the students to the best of my abilities as President. I don’t think experience is harmful, so long as you recognize that you have to work extra hard on bringing in outside perspectives. While I’m proud of my time in Student Government and recognize the importance of experience, we also need those voices who view the organization from a different perspective so we can continue to grow and improve together.
What was the pregame music you were listening to?
Ha ha, I’m so glad I got this question and wondered if people saw me jamming out! I was listening to an odd combination of the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse soundtrack and some of my favorite rock’n’roll songs.
How would one Campus Involvement Advisor reach 36,000 students?
As Analese and I see it now, the Campus Involvement Advisor (or maybe even advisors) would work with university administration to create some sort of questionnaire based off the database of student organizations we have and implement it when freshman and transfer students first arrive to Iowa State. We imagine it as a Buzzfeed-style quiz that you fill out with your passions and interests, then it spits out student organizations that align with what you care about. If students are still struggling to find that family and community they’re seeking, then they can meet with our Campus Involvement Advisor for further assistance.
How would you create a positive working environment between Senators, Cabinet, and the Student Body President?
One of my core beliefs as a leader is that, in order to work together effectively, we have to be honest with one another and get to know each other on a deeper level. This requires courage, compassion, and vulnerability. That last part can be scary, but it’s important to be vulnerable with others so we can grow as people. There are many ways to foster a more positive working environment between everyone involved in Student Government, and we have taken steps to do that like our annual retreat. We want to expand on this and implement more frequent check-ins, as well as more bonding opportunities.
In your opening statement, your Understanding Identities theme points to Unified Communities. Why?
Understanding Identities and Unified Communities go hand-in-hand for our campaign, because we believe to truly bring people together, you have to first understand who they are and how they became that person. We should all see each other for who we are: complicated, nuanced individuals that have unique backgrounds and special abilities or characteristics. We can cherish our individuality while also celebrating that we all came here for the same reasons: to get an amazing education and call ourselves Cyclones.
Recently, Student Government has been accused of being self-centered and not revolving around student welfare. How would you promote a better relationship with students as President?
As President, I would like to expand and improve upon the efforts that myself and other Student Government members started this year to connect Student Government with the student body. One of these efforts has been encouraging our senators to fulfill their weekly office hour outside of the office by meeting with students instead. This has helped our senators connect more with their constituents, the students they are elected to represent. Ultimately, we want to show people how government can and should work for and with you, not outside of you.
What do you say to the claim that you have been confrontational in Senate meetings, rather than inclusive of different opinions?
It’s fair to say that I have been intense in some Senate meetings, but I always welcome differing opinions into the discussion. As much as I may disagree with certain thoughts or perspectives, those different ideas challenge us to make our arguments sharper and debate better. This ultimately creates the best democratic process possible and allows us all to improve. Additionally, I’ve personally worked on having a calmer demeanor in Senate meetings, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m shutting down their voice, even if I don’t agree with what they’re saying.
You said you reached out to every group on campus. However, you did not show up to GPSS this past week. How does this show you want to hear all voices?
Analese and I did visit GPSS – it was just later in the program than originally intended due to a meeting that went longer than expected on the same night. Sorry if we missed you! From big groups to individual meetings, Analese and I have met with hundreds of students these past few weeks, because we appreciate the thoughts they have and truly want to be a voice for all students. When we say that we stand for you, we show that we really mean it.
How do you respond to people who think you are only running as a resume builder for a future political career?
Analese and I have made it clear from the beginning that this campaign isn’t about us – it’s about our fellow Cyclones who have inspired us along the way. The truth is that both of us were skeptical about running, yet we decided to because we felt as though we had a duty to do so. We have a new vision and fresh ideas no one has talked about before, and we feel we have a responsibility to at least try. If the students decide to take Iowa State in a different direction with another campaign, so be it. We’ll leave feeling fulfilled knowing we put forth our best effort and got more students involved in the process.
Trademark is an important issue, but how will you ensure that your focus won’t be completely on trademark and possibly overlooking other important issues?
I care deeply about trademark, but I also am incredibly passionate about so many other issues across our campus. Our platform encompasses a set of themes that highlight our ideals and values as a campaign and as people, and we want to ensure we’re serving in a holistic way since we understand our university faces more than just one issue. We’ve focused on many issues throughout our time in Student Government and this campaign, and we’ll work to solve any problem that we see if elected!
You made several direct attacks at your opponents during the debate. How can you show us that this is not something you will carry over into your administration?
Austin and Ben aren’t my opponents – they’re simply different people with different ideas vying for the same position. Elections should be about what we’re for, not what we’re against. My intention was to debate their ideas and experience, which I believe is fair game, not delve into personal attacks that do nothing to further the conversation. Our platforms and backgrounds should be scrutinized, and those discussions make us all better as candidates and – whoever wins – a better president. We have to be able to handle criticism and allow our ideas to be questioned so they can improve and be the best possible version when implemented for the students. As President, I would have no intention to attack the students I’m elected to serve.
Do you believe in freedom of speech?
Unequivocally. The First Amendment enshrines some of our most sacred rights, and we as a university should encourage sharing our thoughts and ideas in a healthy, educational way. We also should do what we can to discourage and combat hate speech, because while different views are welcomed on our campus, views that belittle or discriminate against others do not belong at Iowa State.
What will be your biggest weakness if elected President?
I’ve always struggled with delegating responsibilities, so this is something I’ve been working on and will continue to work on. I tend to take on too much myself and not ask for help, because I feel like it’s a burden to others. It’s taken time, but I’m slowly realizing others want to help because they care about me and the work we’re doing. I’m incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing team both in my current role as Speaker and as a presidential candidate. They’ve helped me work on this now and will continue to support me and all students in the future.
You talked about doing Diversity and Inclusion training during your retreat. What follow up will you do after the retreat?
The Chief Officers of Student Government are currently exploring the idea of instituting more Diversity and Inclusion training throughout the year, and we believe this will be beneficial for the organization, the student leaders in it, and the students we represent. We can’t just have one training and call it good, so we want to do more in order to continually address diversity and inclusion and strive to become more inclusive. We’re also looking at potentially adding leadership and conflict resolution training, because we want the future generation of leaders to be prepared when they come into these roles.
All of you have experience in Student Government. What makes you feel qualified to speak for students involved in activities other than Student Government? What activities have you been involved in outside of Student Government?
One of the great things about Student Government is the ability to connect with so many other student organizations across campus. We get the opportunity to see a variety of our amazing organizations through the funding process and visit the events that are put on. Analese and I emailed every single organization at the start of our campaign, because we wanted them to know their voices were valued and we are ready to listen. Some of our favorite memories from this process have been visiting different organizations – some we had never heard of before – and learning about their passions and seeing their tight-knit communities. We hope to continue connecting with students throughout the rest of our campaign and in whatever positions we may hold next year, because we highly value the input and opinions that students bring.
Closing statement: Our campaign always likes to end by talking about why Analese and I decided to run, because that's an important question to answer for any position. When determining whether or not to run for Student Body President and Vice President, we talked with people we respected, admired, trusted, and - most importantly - would be honest with us. Honest about what's best for us as leaders, as people, as students like yourselves. Honest about what's best for Student Government as an organization, as a government of the students, a voice for the people. But ultimately honest about what's best for the students, the student body, our fellow Cyclones. At the end of those conversations, Analese and I reflected, and we felt we had a duty to run. We had to at least try, because we don't want to leave ISU feeling content - we want to leave feeling fulfilled. We are so inspired by the students we've met along the way, and it's time Student Government gives that hope back to the students. This isn't about the next year if we're elected to these positions - it's about the next 10 years, the next 20 years. I'm gonna be damn proud to be a Cyclone when I graduate next year, and I'll be even prouder when I come back in 20 years with my kids, 40 years with my grandkids, and point to the university and say, 'We helped build that together.' It's about the legacy we leave behind and foundation we build for future Cyclones, because our impacts will both stay here on this campus and follow us throughout our lives. That's the Cyclone experience! That's our adventure together. We can do more and do better, and we will do more and do better, because we must do more and do better. We're here to tell a story - let's make it a good one.