Welcome back: Summer news review


Your rundown of what happened this summer in Ames. 

Kelly, Snawerdt

This summer, when we started to see less mask restrictions and slightly less commotion about the global COVID-19 pandemic, was sure to bring plenty of eventful news. Everything from Iowa State and the city of Ames lifting mask mandates to addressing Gov. Kim Reynolds’ bill to ban divisive concepts and critical race theory in the classroom were all the buzz.


Over the last three months, Ames named a new police chief, Iowa State held its annual College Creek Cleanup to help clean up our environment and the Iowa Board of Regents spoke about raising tuition rates once again after freezing tuition during the pandemic. Returning to “normal” hasn’t been seamless, but there have certainly been positives along the way, and the news has kept on coming. 


Ban on divisive concepts in the classroom


Recent legislation was put into place by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds when she signed a bill prohibiting specific “divisive” concepts from diversity training and school curriculum, such as the United States and Iowa being systemically racist. 


Although the bill does not list specific concepts that are banned, such as critical race theory or the 1619 Project, both of these have been subject to criticism by Republican lawmakers. Reynolds said topics including critical race theory would fall under the new ban. 


The ban on divisive topics in the classroom had an effect on the new diversity requirements that were to be put in place at Iowa State when the Academic Affairs Committee approved them, but they ended up being stopped at the university Provost’s Office due to language used in the learning outcomes conflicting with the divisive topics ban. 


The new diversity requirements were never signed off on by the Provost’s Office, and the requirements will remain the same as they were last year because of this. 


Iowa State and Ames remove mask ordinances


On May 19, Iowa State released a new face covering policy based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance where the university stated vaccinated individuals did not need to wear a mask on campus, although it encouraged unvaccinated individuals to continue wearing a face covering. 


The city of Ames soon followed suit, and on May 25, the Ames City Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance repealing the city’s current mask ordinance during the last special virtual meeting. 


These two repeals of mask requirements were based on new information given by the CDC, which determined that vaccinated individuals can safely refrain from wearing a mask even in group settings and in public. 


New Police Chief Geoff Huff


After a nationwide search, the city of Ames announced that Geoff Huff would replace former Police Chief Chuck Cychosz, who retired in 2020. 


The police chief has responsibilities that include providing leadership, direction and oversight of the Ames Police Department, which includes patrol, investigations, communications, record maintenance, administrative work, parking enforcement and animal control functions. The police chief also serves as a member of the city manager’s executive leadership team.

Huff was one of two candidates that were running for the position, the other being John Justiniano from California.


Huff worked for the Ames Police Department since 1994 and served as its interim chief for the past year. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Northern Iowa and a master’s degree in criminal justice from the American Military University, and he is also a graduate from the FBI National Academy.


Huff has been serving as the new police chief since July 1. 


Annual College Creek Cleanup


The Iowa State Office of Sustainability hosted its annual College Creek Cleanup event June 12 with 35 Ames volunteers that came out to help make a difference. 


Director of Sustainability Merry Rankin estimated that there were around 25 full bags of trash that were picked up with a huge turnout this year compared to previous years. With COVID making last year’s event difficult, it was expected to see a jump in participation, and Rankin said she felt extremely grateful for all the help they received to do a good thing in such a difficult time.


Juneteenth block party 


Juneteenth was officially recognized as a national U.S. holiday in 2021, and on the honorable day, Ames Black Lives Matter (BLM) hosted a celebratory block party to commemorate the historical date. 


The event acknowledged and celebrated Black voices with spoken word and by supporting Black businesses with vendor stands, and Ames BLM speakers told the story of Juneteenth and its importance to visitors.


For many Black individuals, this was their first time celebrating the holiday due to a lack of exposure to its history and not having many opportunities to celebrate here in Iowa. Newcomers and those who celebrated their whole life came together that day to remember and honor such an important day in American history, and Ames BLM hopes to continue celebrating the legacy in the years to come. 


Tuition increase 


The Iowa Board of Regents met to propose new tuition rate increases for the 2021-22 academic year at the three Iowa major public universities. 

The Regents proposed Iowa State resident students pay an additional $282 for tuition and nonresidents pay an additional $906. This is considered a standard increase for the state, but it can be stress-inducing for students that are coming out of a global pandemic. 


The Board voted to increase tuition.