Student Government seats new members to civic engagement committee


Photo by Talon Delaney

Rob Bingham speaking before the Iowa State Student Senate in the Memorial Union Camponile Room. 

Talon Delaney

Three of the four vacant at-large seats on Student Government’s civic engagement committee were filled Wednesday night. The bill to approve the candidates took more than an hour of motions, objections and debate before approved by the Senate. 

Disagreement surrounded two of the candidates appointed by Senator Caroline Warmuth. The Senate separated the bill into three independent bills so each person could be analyzed individually.

The Senate first considered Christopher Anderson, junior in political science and public relations.

He was quickly approved and the meeting moved to the second candidate, Ben Whittington, junior in political science and a former candidate for student body president in 2017.

The Senate asked Whittington if his loyalties were truly for the benefit of the student body, or if he was using the Iowa State Student Government as a stepping stone to future success.

“For me, I want to make sure that Student Government advocates for students first,” said Wyatt Scheu, College of Human Sciences senator and senior in kinesiology. “Ben and I haven’t always seen eye to eye. His [presidential] campaign took shots at the Student Government, he reached out to me to address it, but he wouldn’t take responsibility for it.”

Scheu added, “I love people who take responsibility for their actions, good or bad.”

On the Senate floor, Whittington was given the opportunity to defend his qualifications for the position.

“The reasons I think I should be on this committee are that I have skills and passion to bring to this committee,” Whittington said. “And if there are students that feel uncomfortable with me being in a committee at an at-large position then I welcome them to discuss it with me so we can get it resolved.”

The third at-large candidate considered was Rob Bingham, senior in political science. Bingham served as the Ames City Council’s ex officio member, where he represented the Student Government. Questions were raised on his qualifications for the committee position based on his conduct under his former title.

“I don’t want to go into details, but [Bingham] rubbed some people the wrong way,” said Kathryn Walker, senior director of government affairs. “The contention tonight is if he should be granted this position.”

Like Whittington, Bingham was allowed to present his qualifications before the Senate.

“When I was 16 I served as one of the youngest members on Barack Obama’s re-election staff,” Bingham said. “This is something I’ve cared about for close to a decade… this is my life. Getting people to vote and care about politics is my life.”

Bingham was approved for the at-large seats along with Whittington and Anderson. Senator Jacob Schrader and Senator Gabriel G. Rios Rivera were made senate members of the civic engagement committee.  There still remains one open seat on the committee.

“I feel confident in our decision mainly because it’s Caroline [Warmuth’s] committee,” said Senator Ihssan Ait-Boucherbil, senior in chemistry. “She knows how to run that committee. I voted for them because I trust her.”

The Senate also approved of the Big XII Voter Challenge, which will pit Iowa State against other universities in the conference against one another to see which school can increase student voter turnout the most.

The Senate then approved to vote on permitting funds to four different student organizations in their next meeting. These student groups are the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Pride Alliance, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Latinos in Science (SHPE-MAES) and Engineering and the African Student Association(ASA.)

The ASA is requesting $4,902 for their annual African Night and the NSBE is asking $198 to attend a conference in Dallas, Texas. The Pride Alliance is requesting $2,232.40 to attend a LGBTQA+ conference in Wichita, Kansas, and SHPE-MAES is requesting $2,540.28 to send 18 students to the SHPE National Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.