In their third meeting of the semester, Student Government continued to fill vacant seats and implement new campus guidelines concerning vaccines and social injustice.
Senators also spoke out about the need to reduce student fees.
Vaccines and the pandemic took up a large degree of the meeting. With the recent news of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine currently paused and Iowa State beginning the process of vaccinating students April 19, it is still unknown how this will all play out.
President Julia Campbell recapped her work this week, which included speaking to Erin Baldwin, associate vice president for student health services, about the mass vaccination clinic and the J&J vaccine. While variables are still being worked through, Campbell said Iowa State will utilize Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
Campbell also touched on a meeting she had with the Iowa State administration and President Wendy Wintersteen. During the conversation, Wintersteen described how next fall will look and how there is a desire to be back in person. Campbell and Wintersteen also discussed the possibility of an in-person commencement.
Anna Olson, junior in journalism and mass communication and former director of communications, and Eliana Crabb, senior in hospitality management and current vice speaker of the Senate, spoke about a survey they sent out over winter break.
The survey concerned the degree of difficulty of getting tested for COVID-19 and social injustice on campus.
“We thought that this was a need within the community because of the events that were happening over the summer, so we decided to talk to diversity and inclusion on campus in order to see what we could do in order to look at the different things that we could improve on,” Olson said.
The surveys were sent to all Iowa State students via email with 873 students responding to it. That would mean one out of every 360 students responded to the email. The demographics of the survey saw the participants identify as:
58.9 percent female
41.1 percent male
32.6 percent BIPOC
67.4 percent white
There were several notable statistics Olson and Crabb touched on. According to the survey, 18.82 percent of people thought the process was extremely easy to moderately easy and 3.21 percent of students did not get tested due to insurance coverage.
Olson and Crabb also said 15 people did not seek COVID-19 treatment from health care professionals because of previous experiences in regards to their identity.
The second half of the survey centered around the social injustice taking place at Iowa State. Olson and Crabb displayed multiple quotes of students experiencing prejudice and social injustice.
“I have overheard groups of people who are not wearing masks call COVID-19 ‘The China Virus.' It’s unacceptable that it happened and it makes persons who are of Asian heritage feel unsafe in the Ames community,” an anonymous student from the survey said.
Olson and Crabb laid out key points in their presentation to combat the issue.
Adding a module specifically about racism as related to COVID-19 to the “Managing Bias”
More transparent investigation process into racist acts on campus
Statement from Iowa State health officials disproving and condemning anti-Asian sentiment surrounding COVID-19
COVID-19 education module on Canvas that acknowledges racism, xenophobia and implicit bias in relation to the pandemic.
The meeting saw 16 bills where there were nominee confirmations, members added to committees and the seating of a new senator.
Before the bills went to vote, former Inter-Residence Hall Association senator Ryan Hurley spoke out at the public forum.
“To my haters, of which there are many, to the people who have attacked and slandered me, I will tell you what must be done. My haters, I ask you, hang your head low, drop to your knees, respectfully understand this fact: 2021 and every year henceforth shall be the Y.O.T.H. The Year of The Hurley,” Hurley said.
Hurley then transitioned into a call for change. Without it, he claims Student Government will submerge.
“We currently face muck, decay, rot, parasitism in Student Government,” Hurley said. “Proposing policies that do not help students or can directly hurt the same said students, if we cannot right the force, it must be destroyed and rebuilt for the students.”
As his 10-minute time slot became shorter and shorter, Hurley issued out his mandate that made four central points, the first of which was about the current financing of the Iowa State Daily.
“One of the biggest expenses we (Student Government) pay for is the Iowa State Daily,” Hurley said. “Student Government has a massive multiyear contract to give them (The Iowa State Daily) a massive amount of money. Senators must propose legislation to lower that amount of funding seeing that they have gone digital for this time being.”
In the other parts of his mandates, Hurley suggested the Student Government website be updated weekly with bills and legislation for the student body, make it harder for Student Government to increase the money it receives from students' university bill (U-Bill) and for new senators to reach out to their constituents and fellow students they represent.
Hurley ended his speaking privilege with a quote:
“Criticism is easier to take when you realize that the only people who aren’t criticized are those who don’t take risks.”
When pasted into Google, the quote is attributed to Robert Kiyosaki, an American businessman and founder of Rich Global LLC and the Rich Dad Company, and former President Donald Trump.
Positions filled included a new United Residence Off Campus (UROC) senator, a new director of diversity and inclusion, director of IT, director of affordability, finance director, senior director of communications, director of outreach and director of marketing.
Jacob Ludwig, senior in economics, went three for three in the bills where he was nominated for a position. He was elected the chief of staff for President Campbell and her cabinet, nominated to the Student Fees and Tuition Committee and nominated to the CyRide board of trustees.
Ludwig spoke on all of his positions and shared a statistic concerning CyRide that may be shocking to some students and hopes to get the bus system back to its pre-pandemic ways.
CyRide ridership is down two-thirds this school year when compared to the 2019-20 one. While more places to sit on the bus is a plus, CyRide receives funding from federal grants and, according to Ludwig, this loss of ridership could result in $3 million lost in grants.
Ludwig also spoke on his goals as a member of the Student Fees and Tuition Committee. Ludwig kept his goal simple: the less costs, the better.
“My priorities on the committee is to keep fees as low as possible in the upcoming and future years,” Ludwig said. “Especially right now, attending colleges is becoming more and more expensive in every other way.”