Meet the candidates for StuGov president, vice president


Stugov Collage

Madelyn Ostendorf

The 2019 Student Government Election cycle has begun, and three students — Austin Graber, Cody Woodruff and Benjamin Whittington — are competing for the 2019-20 presidency.

Austin Graber, a senior in business economics, is running with Vishesh Bhatia, a junior in genetics. Graber’s campaign slogan is “Elevate, Educate, Connect” and is focused on three major platform points, according to their website.

Benjamin Whittington, a junior in political science, is campaigning with Annaliessa Michelotti, a junior in women’s and gender studies. Whittington said his campaign is focused on “bridging the divide” between students of different backgrounds—political, racial or social— and bringing Cyclones together.

Cody Woodruff, a senior in political science, is running with Analese Hauber, a senior in English. Woodruff said his campaign, “I Stand for U,” focuses on understanding identities, unifying community and offering unlimited opportunities and unconditional support.

As election season kicks off, funding is established and campaigning begins, here is a breakdown of each platform’s major platforms.

Student wellness and safety

The Graber campaign plans to raise awareness about sexual assault on campus and educate students on ways to prevent it by partnering with ACCESS and Green Dot. They also intend to partner with the ISU Lectures Program to bring a mental health series to Iowa State to begin breaking the stigma of the conversation and to introduce a sexual assault awareness position into their cabinet.  

The Whittington campaign focuses on the expansion and maintenance of available, university-provided student services such as SafeRide, CyRide and parking availability. The campaign also plans to advocate for a more student-friendly hazardous weather policy and improvements to the ISU Alert system.

The Woodruff campaign plans to expand the scope of current health and safety measures on campus, such as the expansion of SafeRide, emergency blue lights on campus and additional nurses on call for sexual assaults. The campaign also plans to advocate for some sexual assault forensic exams to be kept on campus for the victim to have care readily available.   

“We want to make sure Cyclones are supported,” Woodruff said. “No questions asked.”

Diversity and inclusion

Graber’s campaign plans to actively celebrate the uniqueness of students on Iowa State’s campus, and highlighted the Tree of Oppression as one way they plan to do so.

The Tree of Oppression is an installation on campus representing minorities and oppressed identities that encourages conversation about marginalized groups. They plan to also create a diversity and inclusion lecture series with ISU Lectures Program.

Whittington’s campaign aims to increase female and minority representation on Student Government and its committees.  

“I personally believe in civic engagement and having people come to the conversation to talk about differences, because if we can’t get together and talk about things, then we can’t get anything done,” Whittington said.

Woodruff’s campaign also focuses on increasing representation on Student Government and hearing the voices of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. The campaign also aims to raise the minimum wage and create an emergency rent fund for students who are struggling.

Transparency and Student Government connection

Graber’s campaign plans on creating “Reverse Town Halls” and “Fireside Chats” in an effort to reach out to students and increase communication, according to the campaign website.

“Reverse Town Halls” would bring the candidates into residence halls and to student groups to talk about concerns and garner interest in Student Government, as the campaign has found traditional town halls to have low turnout and ultimately be ineffective. “Fireside Chats” would work much like a modernized version of Roosevelt’s chats worked, by posting YouTube videos that discuss topics chosen by the students.

“We really feel that Student Government is doing a good job of representing Student Government, but its not doing a good job of reaching out to all different types of students and really getting that diverse set of ideals, rather than just hearing the same voices in the same room,” Graber said.

Whittington’s campaign focuses on informing Iowa State students on what exactly it is that Student Government stands for and what it does. The campaign hopes to increase the interaction and outreach between Student Government and the students that they represent, as well as improving the transparency of how the government works and communication of information relevant to the student body.

Woodruff’s campaign aims on the importance of trademark and Student Government’s responsibility to continue fighting for the rights of student organizations to keep their names and logos. The campaign also emphasizes the importance of representation on student government and the importance of student involvement.

Unique stances

Each campaign takes a position on a topic that is unique to their platform.

The Graber campaign emphasized the ties that students have to the Ames community, and plans to have an “ISUCares” event, a day where students volunteer around the Ames community.

“As Cyclones, we love our Ames community, which is an area where we all have the ability to thrive, learn and grow,” according to their campaign site.

The Whittington campaign aims to bring back a spring festival to help build and retain a sense of community at Iowa State and re-establish old traditions that were important to students.

“By working with the university and other organizations on and off campus, we are confident a spring festival is good for ISU,” according to their campaign site.

The Woodruff campaign focuses on the opportunities that Cyclones have while on campus, and plan to establish a Campus Involvement Adviser, to aid students in finding an organization that fits their interests.

“We want to help students find what fits their passions and suits their interests by creating a Campus Involvement Adviser,” according to their website.

Funding issues

Due to the Election Commission’s shift to a student organization and the candidates’ issues with p-cards, Student Government voted to give each slate $700.

Woodruff’s campaign, which is privately funded, will pay back the $700 once the private funding in approved by the Election Commission, and Whittington and Graber’s campaigns will take the $700 as a part of their allotted $2000.