The Ames City Council appointed a new ex officio student liaison.
Nicole Whitlock was appointed as the ex officio student liaison on May 12 for Iowa State Student Government and the Ames City Council.
Whitlock is a senior in elementary education with a minor in women’s and gender studies.
The ex officio serves as a member of city council without a vote but as a voice to represent the students.
“So it's just another voice [at city council] to represent students and make sure students are being treated equally as well as we possibly can, by city government," Whitlock said. "And just making sure that the things we represented by our city are being represented as well as our questions are being answered.”
Whitlock is also the vice president of Iowa State College Democrats and said she hopes to become a child immigration lawyer.
“I want to work with children, I felt like [majoring in elementary education] just to help me have better relationships with the children that I represent in the future,” Whitlock said. “I just thought it'd be a really great opportunity to do that. Not that a political science degree or you know, business degree are bad for a career in law, but just for what I want to do representing children I thought it would be a great opportunity to kind of get to know them better.”
As Whitlock is minoring in women’s and gender studies, she said she has always been interested in equality.
“So it was more just to satisfy that interest and learn more about that just to become a better ally and just a better advocate for minority groups of all types,” Whitlock said. “Being a good ally is just being there to support anyone at the minority groups need support and being a strong voice but not diminishing the voices of others while doing so.”
Whitlock said she will be following that same philosophy as the ex officio.
“I definitely want to be a voice for all students," Whitlock said. "I don't want to be, you know, just up there voicing my own opinions. I want to be asking students at Iowa State, you know the entire student body, 'what are your interests?' [or] 'what questions do you have for the city council?' and then represent their interest in questions, not just my own.”
Devyn Leeson, senior in public relations who served as the ex officio from summer 2019 to spring 2020, said the number one priority of the position is to build a bridge between the students and the Ames City Council.
Looking back to his time on the Council, Leeson said one of the aspects he’s really proud of was the change with rent abatement.
“I think that's really important to bring back power between the dynamics between landlords and tenants and bring that more in line with how it should be, which is tenants having more power than they do currently, which is very little," Leeson said.
The transition from student to Council will be different due to COVID-19.
“I'm really not nervous for anything, I'm really excited to represent the students,” Whitlock said. “So far I've been getting reports and then sending them out to the Cabinet, Senate and executive team for the Student Government. I plan to do surveys and stuff to the entire audience to kind of see what they are interested in. I'm really excited to hear their feedback.”