Students answer: ‘Does ISU set students up for success?’


Brielle Tuttle

Students discuss why they came to Iowa State and what makes them stay during the Multicultural Town Hall on Nov. 15.

Editor’s note: The Iowa State Daily refrained from using names of participants in the town hall due to privacy reasons.

Students said they would like to see greater diversity among faculty at Iowa State University during multicultural town hall hosted by Student Government’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Feasting on an array of multicultural entrées, such as Indian, Asian, Mexican and Homestyle, this event provided a space for more than 40 individuals, students and faculty alike, to answer the question, “Does ISU set students up for success?”

The Student Government Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Mary Malausky, introduces herself to start the Multicultural Town Hall on Nov. 15. (Brielle Tuttle)

Seeing change

In an open forum, participants were asked if they would want to see more diversity in advising, counseling and teaching. Every participant raised their hand.

“By population and demographics we are a minority in the student body,” said Mary Malausky, a junior in psychology and DEI director. “That is both physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. We need resources for multicultural students because this is a space that wasn’t originally created for us.”

Many students hope to see the change implemented on campus through diverse faculty members, better advertising for multicultural organizations and more accessible ways to find resources, faculty members, counseling services and advising.

“Anyone in the Student Government will make sure that you have the connections you need,” Malausky said.

When asked if participants felt comfortable discussing their racial or ethnic identities with their adviser, only a few students raised their hands.

“I know what I’m supposed to take and what I can handle,” one student said. “But I feel like my adviser is setting me up for failure.”

Sharing stories

Multiple students stepped forward, both anonymously and openly, to share their experiences as multicultural students at a predominately white institution (PWI).

“I was born in the United States, but I lived most of my life internationally,” one student said. “People ask me questions about where I’m from, if I was born in the U.S. and so on.”

Dr. Perry Fantini, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion tells students how glad she is to see so many people at the Multicultural Town Hall on Nov. 15. (Brielle Tuttle)

When it comes to financial aid, many students shared their lack of support when it came to help with scholarships, loans and overall advising.

“I’ve always felt like I had to advocate for myself,” another student said. “I don’t think multicultural students’ financial success is advocated for.”

In an open forum section, participants were encouraged to raise their hands if they believed Iowa State’s semester break schedule accommodated students who were not Christian. Only one participant raised their hand.

Students find support and empowerment

“Coming in here, I wasn’t expecting a lot of people to have the exact same experiences that I have,” Grace Ntanyungu, a freshman in psychology, told the Daily. “It’s nice to know that you’re not isolated in your struggles.”

Many students shared finding resources on campus that supported and celebrated their multicultural identities was difficult.

“I struggled to find resources for people that are Latino,” Gisel Muñoz, a freshman in liberal arts and sciences, told the Daily after the town hall. “I feel like  Iowa State could do better with advertising this stuff.”

Finding a place where your ideas and concerns are recognized is empowering, Ntanyungu said.

“Just opening everything up to discussion and having a place where people can relate to your problems is huge,” Ntanyungu said. “It’s motivating to see people who are actively seeking out to help you and to make you feel like you matter to the student body.”

Students discuss why they came to Iowa State and what makes them stay during the Multicultural Town Hall on Nov. 15. (Brielle Tuttle)

Purpose of the town hall

The event began with students answering ice-breaker questions in small groups. Topics included their definitions of success, why they chose to attend Iowa State and why they stay at Iowa State. These reasons included scholarships, major and minor opportunities, proximity to home and future goals.

“One of the main purposes of these town halls is to have your touch be heard and for you to be seen and acknowledged,” Malausky said.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion board holds town hall meetings every semester for multicultural students to have a space to share their concerns, experiences and ideas for change.

“If you have an idea, or you feel a certain type of way, or if you want to see something different happen, come to us,” Malausky said.

Resources on Campus

Black Student Alliance
Connect Four
Wellbeing Coaching
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion