Faculty Senate encourages attendance flexibility for students on Election Day


Photo by Katherine Kealey/ Iowa State Daily

The Iowa State University Faculty Senate met twice in April. 

Katherine Kealey

Faculty members are now encouraged to have flexible attendance policies and refrain from scheduling exams Nov. 8 for the midterm election in hopes of encouraging student-voter turnout.

The Faculty Senate passed a two-part resolution that encourages students to vote in addition to the component about accommodating student absences from voting.

Senator Ann Smiley, a professor in kinesiology, said she would support a bill to encourage students to vote, but a new bill should be proposed without the attendance flexibility component. 

“There are lots of ways to vote,” Smiley said. “We really don’t need to be encouraging our students to be missing class or be tardy.”

During the meeting Tuesday, the resolution faced potential amendments from the Executive Board to appease concerns about faculty altering expectations of students instead of encouraging students to plan ahead for voting. The amendment would have substituted “encourage” with “support” but ultimately failed.

Senator Karen Kedrowski, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center, proposed the resolution because of lower voter turnout for Iowa State students in midterm elections. The language was designed in collaboration with Iowa State University Student Government and the Graduate Professional Student Senate. 

“Personally, I also think the words ‘support’ versus ‘encourage’ is sort of a distinction without a difference,” Kedrowski said. “This is already a weak resolution. There is no mandate here, there is no requirement. It is still a suggestion.”  

Iowa State University’s new strategic plan will be available to the public July 1. It will consist of goals referred to as “to-be” statements which were developed by members of the campus community. Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen said this plan differs from standard strategic plans because the university will also be allocating funds to achieve the to-be statements.

“I think that is going to make a difference for Iowa State as we go forward,” Wintersteen said. “It is hard to remember a time when we have actually put money behind ideas that we have brought together for a strategic plan.”

In the fall semester, individuals will have the opportunity to share their ideas with the Iowa State administration about where money should be allocated. Wintersteen also spoke to the Senate about the accomplishments of the Faculty Senate, as well as the next steps as the university continues to transition out of the pandemic. 

“It has been a difficult time as we have been able to enact certain policies that we had approval from the Board of Regents for or have different types of actions,” Wintersteen said. “But truly we are moving into a different time where we do have certain rules that have to be followed.”

The Senate also saw a resolution to stand in solidarity with Ukraine by encouraging Iowa State faculty to stop cooperation with Russian businesses that directly or indirectly finance the war with Ukraine. The resolution also encouraged faculty to spread information to combat Russian propaganda and supply support to those impacted by the war.

This was the first read, so the Senate did not vote. The resolution could see amendments after one faculty member mentioned concerns for Russian faculty who have experienced negativity since the conflicts began, as well as faculty who instruct Russian-related courses. The Senate will vote on the bill in the final meeting of the spring semester May 3. 

Senior Vice President Jonathan Wickert told the Senate about the first inaugural Admitted Students Day. The university hosted 460 prospective students and their families, totaling over 1,000 people touring various colleges and resident halls. Similar to signing days for athletes, students also had the opportunity to sign a certificate of intent to attend Iowa State and take a photo with Wintersteen. While this isn’t a legally binding document, Wickert said the experience was remarkable to see. 

“I can’t really imagine that there are a lot of university presidents around the country that would take an hour and a half of their day to take pictures with prospective students, but at Iowa State University every student counts,” Wickert said. “That was really a fantastic experience and we know those students really saw the best of Iowa State that day.”

In other business, the Senate also approved:

  • A dairy production management certificate as part of a collection of specialized certifications to allow students to demonstrate expertise in fields. 

  • A new minor in global human science under the College of Human Science 

  • New senators to serve as chairs on academic affairs, governance council, judiciary and appeals council, resource policies and allocations council and faculty senate secretary.