State Rep. Ross Wilburn was elected Tuesday to represent Iowa House District 46, which covers Iowa State’s campus and much of the Campustown area.
First, the Editorial Board would like to congratulate Wilburn on his victory. Though he ran unopposed, Wilburn reached out to his now-constituents throughout his campaign and worked to discover what issues matter most to them.
Unfortunately, Gov. Kim Reynolds decided this election should take place before most students would return for school, meaning they may not have been around for canvassing. To hopefully mitigate the silencing of students, we have some ideas for Wilburn to keep in mind:
Education funding needs to be a legislative priority, and Iowa State students need you to draw from your time on campus in demonstrating how important affordable education is. Iowa State’s foundation in the Morrill Act means prioritizing affordability of education for all students.
This Board has called on the Legislature countless times to fully fund higher education, and it can sometimes begin feeling futile, as we try to come up with new angles in the argument for caring about the future of Iowa.
You, however, offer a new, unique voice. You’re familiar with college issues, having previously served as the mayor of Iowa City. As a leader from Iowa State, you’re certainly no stranger to students’ hardships, and we’re counting on you to share those stories with fellow legislators.
Of course, tuition and fees aren’t the only costs that come with being a college student.
Students tend to rent, rather than buy their homes, and the landlords in Ames — through their advocacy against the rental cap — have shown their willingness to go to the state legislature when they’re displeased with the City Council. Earlier this summer, the board wrote about an e-mail in which Mayor John Haila responded to student concerns by questioning why the council would “undertake any conversation where the landlords will become really upset and again take action at the statehouse.”
The answer, we hope, can now be “because Wilburn will stand up to landlords in the name of students.” If the council moves forward on issues such as rent abatement or fair utility advertising, and landlords go to the state legislature, we hope Wilburn can be counted on to seek out experiences from his district and continue following issues at the local level when determining how to proceed at the Statehouse.
Regarding student safety, we strongly urge you to be a leader in supporting medical amnesty.
Medical amnesty laws protect those seeking care for medical emergencies caused by the illegal possession or consumption of alcohol. Leaders at every Regent institution have called for such a law in Iowa — one of only 11 states not to have such a law — to save student lives.
No one can stop students from consuming alcohol illegally, but a medical amnesty law can stop them from risking their lives to avoid a citation.
These aren’t the only things impacting students, but they’re a place to start. Truly, the point we hope to convey is that students are counting on you. Even though their voices were stifled at the ballot box, they need you to amplify them at the Capitol.
Continue seeking out what matters to your constituents. Listen. Learn.