Senate denies funding for SolarSeating


Jacob Rice

Student Government meeting, Memorial Union, Mar. 22, 2023.

The Iowa State University Student Government senate denied a bill requesting $36,000 to fund a SolarSeating bench near the sand volleyball court.

Introduced by Engineers for a Sustainable World, this bench would have allowed students to use solar energy to charge devices, providing 16 plug-in locations and seating for eight.

Multiple senators expressed concern regarding the location of the bench and whether it was worth the money.

“While I definitely understand the want and benefit to increasing students’ familiarity and having them interact more with solar-powered materials […] I think this is a lot of money for what is ostensibly a single picnic table, and with it being that far off campus, I think you’re kind of undermining your own goal of increasing awareness,” said Eddie Mahoney, speaker of the senate and a graduate student majoring in computer science.

This bill failed with 15 senators voting no, 5 voting yes, and 3 abstaining.

“I agree that the bench is cool, and in front of the Student Innovation Center or the Electrical Engineering Building would make sense, maybe worth the money,” said Liberal Arts and Sciences Senator Madeline Becker, a junior majoring in economics. “But, the outdoor rec stuff is so far; it is not walking distance, so I really struggle to believe that we would get our money’s worth out of this.”

The senate allotted $1,357,108 to various student organizations through their annual allocations process. Allocations are funded by the student activity fee that is paid with tuition.

Student Government receives the student activity fee revenue and allocates it to student organizations and sports clubs seeking funding for the upcoming fiscal year. This bill funds organizations such as Dance Marathon, WinterFest and AfterDark.

The senate also voted to approve the Student Government accounts, that would receive money from their allotment of the student activity fee. This includes accounts such as the Green Initiatives fund and events account. Every senator voted in favor of the bill.

The senate voted 18-2-2 to fund Students Helping Our Peers (SHOP) cookbooks, a project introduced by the Cyclone Student Innovators. Two senators abstained from voting.

According to the student organization database, SHOP is a food pantry for Iowa State students with the goal of engaging with anti-hunger advocates and serving the student population by increasing hunger awareness and food security.

These cookbooks would contain upwards of 45 recipes and feature international cuisine. The Cyclone Student Innovators requested $1,844 to print 400 books.

A contract was also ratified between Student Government and SHOP food pantry. The five-year contract would provide $70,000 to SHOP annually. This bill was passed unanimously.

“We’ve seen exponential growth at the SHOP within the past year, and we are just looking to better serve the student population,” said Natalie Drake, co-president of SHOP and a senior majoring in biology. “Based on previous surveys done by Iowa State, 33% of students on Iowa State’s campus are food insecure, so this funding would be a huge help in increasing our supply, especially diversifying it.”

The senate moved to provide funding to the Women’s Rugby Club. This bill passed 22-0. The $350 granted to the club via Student Government will allow them to compete in their national competition Saturday.

Additionally, the senate voted to fund the Jack Trice Character Award Scholarship. This bill provides $37,000 to help fund these scholarships. The Jack Trice Character Award Scholarships are awarded to students who embody the traits and character of Jack Trice, according to the Division of Student Affairs Website. 

The contract with Therapy Assistant Online (TAO) was also renewed 23-0. According to senate documents, TAO was introduced in 2020 and allows students to utilize the resource for mental health support.

The renewal of this contract will make this resource available to students through June 2026.

New business

Next week, the Senate is set to address:

  • A bill requesting $156.59 to fund SHOP food pantry food meal kits.
  •  A bill requesting $315.25 to fund the Western Team’s trip to their national competition.
  • A bill requesting $1,387 to fund Cyclone Support, a website intended to organize student resources.
  • A bill seeking to renew the contract with the Lectures Committee.