Lisowski: Students must engage with Ames City Council


Jay Waagmeester

City council meetings can be viewed on the AmesTelevision YouTube channel.

Maximillian Lisowski, Opinion Editor

The Ames City Council will tell students that involvement with our local government is essential, but they can only do so much to garner our attention. My hope is that I can persuade you to participate in our local government or at least take an interest in our city council’s decisions.    

This fall, 29,969 students enrolled at Iowa State University — about 45% of the city’s population, according to last year’s census data. This is no big surprise, but many students are not doing their due diligence during their time in Ames. 

The city council meets every second and fourth (not including special meetings) week to discuss items that could change a resident’s experience in Ames. They could considerably change how CyRide works for the city or alter fines handed out by the Ames Police Department. 

But it goes deeper than that.

The city council decides on matters that directly affect students living and working in Ames. Without taking the time to sit in on city council meetings, students could find themselves missing their next bus ride or become blindsided by a fine that was implemented just last week.  

For example, Aug. 9, the city authorized enhanced penalties for partygoers who chose to celebrate the weekend before classes began. While this only applied to those who got into legal trouble, students who found themselves slapped with a $650 fine were not happy. 

While I know this was a way for the city to “deter students from engaging in ‘risky behavior, or to disincentivize people from other cities to cause havoc in Ames, I can’t help but not be sorry for those who ended up emptying their wallets. 

I’m not saying students should break the law, but they should share their thoughts on how the city could change in a way that benefits both students and the rest of the Ames community. This can only be done if we, the students, take the time to engage with our local government and attend city council meetings.  

Perhaps increasing fines is not the right way to prevent people from drinking underage or causing problems in our community, but the only way that the city council would know is if we offer solutions that are reasonable and supported by students affected by these changes.   

Keeping an eye on what the city council does is essential for students in Ames. It offers you an opportunity to engage with our city’s decision-making and could potentially sway a vote in a decision that keeps students in mind. Paying attention to it could even protect you from losing a paycheck or two.