In their last meeting of the year, the 2020-21 Student Government Senate heard their last open forum, passed their last bills and said their final goodbyes.
With a new Senate and administration coming into office next week on April 6, President Morgan Fritz led off the meeting with some recommendations for the incoming administration and Senate.
Her recommendations included:
Keeping diversity and inclusion at the forefront during transitions.
Institute guidelines for posts on official Iowa State Student Government pages and hold regular town meetings.
Offer more opportunities to collaborate with clubs and organizations across campus.
Engage in discussions on diversity and inclusion regularly by enhancing our program during Senate meetings.
Review the language used in Student Government.
Require that a member of diversity and inclusion sits on the finance committee.
Promote multicultural clubs across campus.
Continued diversity, equity and inclusion education for all Student Government.
Increase opportunities for Student Government outreach.
Ensure students know their Student Government representative.
After Fritz’s recommendations, the meeting transitioned to the open forum.
The first speaker, who did not state his name nor give it when inquired, gave a Shakespeare-esque performance to begin his speech.
“Behold the beauty my eyes cannot see. I am blinded by the abundance of monotony and the forgotten elegance lost to time as we are all forced towards conformity,” he said.
He continued his speech by questioning some past speaker’s motives.
“Do I have your attention?” he said. “You get up behind this podium, in front of the cameras and you howl about oppression and victimhood. You think that by taking one glance at a human being, you can classify them as an oppressor or a victim.”
He ended his speech by condemning these speakers that have, in his view, misrepresented the minority population at Iowa State.
The first student said people who speak, “on behalf of communities who have not consented to such representation and then who respond to polite dissent with insults, silencing and banishment from a public space are either helplessly foolish about their abilities to lead or concealing an intent so malicious that we should all shudder at the thought of them gaining any sort of power.”
The first student’s colleagues, which included Thomas King, freshman in biology, Jacob Frier, senior in finance, and another person who introduced himself as “just another ISU student,” also echoed the message of the first student’s message.
The “just another ISU student” speaker spoke on the situations of Vice President Jacob Schrader and Sen. Daniel Pfeifer.
Speaking to Schrader, he spoke of his situation and was confused as to why he was receiving heat.
“A few meetings ago you were told that you silence hurt communities at Iowa State because you are protecting your white feelings and white guilt,” speaker two said. “When did being silent become the new call for violence?”
He went on to ask Schrader if he condemned racism, to which Schrader replied yes. He also touched on Pfeifer’s situation.
“Mr. Pfeifer stood up to acknowledge hypocrisy shown during the meetings and the breaking of meeting rules due to uncivil discourse,” he said. “We have seen this hypocrisy again and again being that students have been reduced to the color of their skin, and the only time I have seen this on campus has been during the Student Government meeting.”
The “just another ISU student” was speaking about Scott Nguyen’s, senior in aerospace engineering and the president of the Multicultural Greek Council, statement last week about Sen. Jack Bender, where Nguyen said Bender was a token senator. Tonight, Nguyen apologized.
“I want to apologize for what I said,” Nguyen said. “Not to you white people in here but to the people of color that I have hurt with what I said. My intent was to shed light on underrepresented and underrepresentation of students of color in Student Government, but my words instead invalidated their experiences by implying that they are only here because they are a token person of color.”
After the next speaker, Somerle Rhiner, spoke about the racism she has experienced in her time in Ames, Breanna Diaz, junior in child, adult and family services and vice president of community outreach for the Multicultural Greek Council, spoke about her life story as well as some people she will never forgive.
Along with never forgiving certain senators, Diaz took aim at other Iowa State figures.
“I will never forgive Wendy Wintersteen for praising the ISU and Ames P.D. (police department) after Geroge Floyd was murdered. I will never forgive Iowa State as an institution for adhering to the white students by showing complacency when others are being oppressed. I will never forgive Iowa State for tokenizing the likes of Jack Trice and George Washington Carver, especially when there is a building on campus named after a white supremacist - Catt Hall,” Diaz said.
After open forum concluded, the agenda was taken on. The Open Records Act bill was postponed and will be voted on by the new Senate and the Excellence Fund was struck and no longer exists.
By the end of the night, many departing senators and officers spoke to the group about their experiences in Student Government and what it has meant to them.
Though Pfeifer said that this year was “bumpy,” many of the messages said by members were gratuitous and warm.
In his goodbye message, Speaker of the House Jacob Ludwig thanked Fritz and Schrader and touched on what his experience has been under their administration.
“I was on their campaign last year and here, at the end of their term, I don’t regret campaigning for them for one second. I know that there are disagreements about what they have done throughout the year, but they have been tirelessly serving the student body and giving it their all,“ Ludwig said.