Voting for Student Government elections starts Tuesday


Kennedy DeRaedt/Iowa State Daily

Candidates take turns answering questions during the Iowa State Student Government Presidential Debate between Austin Graber (left), Cody Woodruff (middle) and Ben Whittington (right). Topics discussed included student wellness, campus climate, trademark, tuition, diversity and the role of the Student Government President. The debate was held in the Campanile Room of Memorial Union on Feb. 26.

Madelyn Ostendorf

Iowa State students will vote to decide the future leaders of the student body during Student Government elections on March 12 and 13.

As the polls open and voting begins, here is a rundown of this year’s campaigns.


Benjamin Whittington, a junior in political science, and his running mate Annaliessa Michelotti, a junior in women’s and gender studies, are campaigning on the platform “Bridging the Divide.” Their main focuses are on increased transparency on the behalf of Student Government, parking accessibility on campus, promoting an eco-friendly campus, bringing a spring festival back to Iowa State and the improvement of other infrastructure on campus.

Vice-Presidential Debate

During the Vice-Presidential debate, Michelotti spoke about the slate’s plan for and progress in improving student parking accessibility. She explained that their campaign had already held numerous meetings with the Iowa State Parking Division to explore what options are possible and affordable to implement. Michelotti also emphasized the importance of transparency and communication between Student Government and the student body. They intend, as part of their efforts, to encourage Senators to get out of the West Student Office Space and on to the campus to speak with their constituents, as well as renovating the current Student Government website and continuing some kind of consistent student update.

“Students, again, they don’t know what Student Government is,” Michelotti said. “A lot of students that I have talked to personally have gone on to the Student Government website and try to find out ‘What is Student Government? What are they doing right now? Where is my money going?’ and it’s just ‘page not found’ after ‘page not found’ after ‘page not found.’”

Presidential Debate

On Feb. 21, the Friday following the Vice-Presidential debate, the Daily released an article where Whittington disavowed transphobic comments he made in 2017.

At the Presidential Debate, Whittington was asked an audience submitted question about his comments and “If [Whittington’s] views in this area have changed so drastically within the last year and a half, how can students be confident that [Whittington] will be true to [Whittington’s] current platform in a year from now, if elected president?”

“My past is filled with both mistakes and growth,” Whittington responded. “And I think we should focus on that growth. That growth is what will propel me forward and what will guide me as Student Body President. If you don’t trust that growth, if you don’t think that I will be the same in a year, I ask you to trust my running mate, Annaliessa Michelotti.”

Whittington, during the debate, also emphasized the importance of the Wellness Center’s resources, inclusivity and diversity in every aspect of Student Government, reaching out to multicultural groups on campus and building community, during which he cited the 28 percent of students of color that felt unsafe on campus and his campaign’s promise to make campus as welcoming as possible.


During Whittington and Michelotti’s podcast with the Iowa State Daily, the campaign expanded on how they overcame their different political backgrounds and formed a team based in their differing beliefs. They also clarified their meaning behind their platform point of parking accessibility. The campaign’s plan is to encourage students who live in or near Campus-town to not drive their cars to and from classes by implementing a BikeShare program, which would cost millions of dollars less than increasing parking space and would also free up spaces for commuters to take.


Austin Graber, a senior in business economics, and his running mate Vishesh Bhatia, a junior in genetics, are running with the slogan “Elevate. Educate. Connect.” The main platforms of their campaign are highlighting the Tree of Oppression, bringing alumni back to campus during Homecoming, adding lectures series on mental health and sexual assault awareness, expanding Destination Iowa State and facilitating reverse town halls as well as FireSide Chats.

Vice Presidential Debate

Bhatia focused on the campaign’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion as well how his campaign planned to include students who weren’t considered traditionally involved on campus. Bhatia talked about the Tree of Oppression and their plans to integrate its story into orientation and campus tours to expose prospective students to the meaning of the Tree. They also plan to bring in speakers and lecturers to use the Tree as a talking point to spark discussion surrounding diversity on campus.

“We want to change that conversation in a positive way where we can build that platform to talk about different identities and how much it matters to everyone, every student, every Cyclone on campus,” Bhatia said.

Presidential Debate

Graber spoke during the Presidential debate about appointing an Interpersonal Violence Informational Coordinator to Student Government’s cabinet to directly coordinate with and promote programs such as ACCESS and Green Dot. Graber also talked about the campaign’s plan to create awareness for the current resources that Iowa State has for mental health support. He talked about the limited resources that Iowa State currently has, but also acknowledged that there was little to no funding available to increase those services. As well as his plan to promote existing services, Graber’s campaign also hopes to give Vice-Presidents of Iowa State’s student organizations some degree of mental health training.

“In order to become the vice president for the club, they would have to go through a student wellness training,” Graber said. “Therefore, there will be advocates on student wellness in each different club — over 850 clubs.”


During their Iowa State Daily podcast, Graber and Bhatia talked about their plans to connect with students more to better understand what they wanted out of Student Government. Their reverse town halls, where they would go out to clubs and talk with them about their concerns, as well as their “Fireside Chats” would allow the to take a more active role in the student body. They also spoke about the Tree of Oppression and their hopes to remove the negative connotation students may have with it.


Cody Woodruff, a senior in political science, and his running mate Analese Hauber, a senior in English, are campaigning on the platform “I Stand 4 U.” Their campaign is broken into four sections: understanding identities, unlimited opportunities, unified community and unconditional support.

Vice Presidential Debate

During the debate, Hauber talked about the emergency rent assistance fund that the campaign was promising to begin, funded by way of private donors, to help students who are threatened by eviction that live in Ames. She also talked about how she did not see Student Government transparency as an issue in terms of “hiding anything”, but does believe that Senators should hold office hours outside of the office to have conversations with students. Hauber also spoke about the potential expansion of the Student Wellness Center’s resources by raising student fees a small amount.

“Through our ‘unconditional support,’ we want to expand our health services on campus,” Hauber said. “If that means raising our student health fee 50 cents to $1 per semester, that could provide thousands and thousands of dollars to help with not only education but services we could provide to our students.”

Presidential Debate

Woodruff spoke about the issue of sexual assault and his campaign’s plan to add a 24-hour on-campus physician and to bring more sexual assault kits on campus. He also talked about his intention to up the diversity and representation on Student Government, making a Senate that better reflects diversity on campus, by recruiting minorities and creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment within Student Government. He also referenced the Tree of Oppression and the need for students to understand what it represented.

“Student Government recently sent out a survey focused on the Tree of Oppression, which is something we created last year, and we got, unfortunately, a number of horrendous, heinous remarks back that dealt with nationalism and white supremacy, things that do not belong on this campus and will never belong on this campus,” Woodruff said.


Woodruff and Hauber’s podcast with the Iowa State Daily touched on their plans for advocating on behalf of student organizations and students with the Trademark and Licensing Office, how the two decided to run together and their plans for raising the minimum wage to a flat $10 across all campus jobs. Woodruff emphasized that should the minimum wage rise, it will be in a way that does not also cause tuition to rise, using Iowa State Dining as an example. Dining has, according to Woodruff, began to turn a profit which could be used to pay student workers more.

Voting for Student Government President and Vice President, as well as Senatorial seats, will be taking place on March 12 and 13 at or at polling locations in the Memorial Union.