Student Government holds town hall, discusses city relations

Mayor of Ames John Haila talks about the rental housing ordinance at the Student Government town hall hosted on Thursday night in the Memorial Union. 

Jill Alt

Student Government held a town hall in the Multicultural Center of the Memorial Union Thursday night. 

Mayor John Haila, Ames Police Chief Charles Cychosz , Director of Student Wellness Mark Rowe-Barth and President of the Cyride Board of Directors were speakers for the evening while Student Government Vice President Cody Smith moderated.

Ten students were in attendance as well as Iowa State Police Chief Michael Newton and Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Martino Harmon. Low turnout has been a reoccurring issue with town halls. 

A broad range of topics were covered from the Green Dot initiative to collegiate recovery programs to CyRide and residential codes.

Mayor John Haila talked about City Council’s Rental Occupancy Ordinance—Everything you Need to know about Ames’ rental Occupancy ordinance can be found here—and its implementation at the meeting, and how it will affect students, especially regarding parking.

“We are cognizant of the fact that this may have an affect on students,” Haila said. “I just want to add that my only comment is that I represent all 66,191 residents of Ames. That includes you and that includes full time residents of Ames.”

During the meeting Haila mentioned that during his campaign, he wanted to prevent the ordinance from creating tension between students and full-time residents. 

“One of the things I was very passionate about during the campaign and I talked about is that I don’t want to see this split or drive a wedge in our community between students, renters, landlords and full time residents,” Haila said. 

Haila said that he is still working through this with the city council and will continue to keep the students’ needs into account. 

He also spoke about CyRide 2.0 with Steven Valentino, senior in political science and president of the CyRide Board of Directors. CyRide 2.0 is going to be launched March 1 and will include expansions and changes to multiple routes. This includes but is not limited to:

  • The addition of a Peach route reaching to the Northern Ames area around Schilliter Village 
  • The addition of a Lilac route acting as an express route from west Ames to campus during the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Removal of Vet-Med from the Orange 23 line
  • More stop times available on the orange line and blue line
  • Creation of an express route
  • New Drop-off location in the Target parking lot—Meaning no more crossing the highway by Panera Bread

Valentino said that he is “very excited” about these changes and the accessibility it will bring to the city of Ames. 

The City of Ames Police Chief Charles Cychosz talked about increases in violent crimes, timely notices and new implementations to the Ames Police Department including body cameras. 

“We are in the process of obtaining body cameras,” Chief Cychosz said. “If you look across the country, we’re clearly not the first. ISU has had body cameras on their officers for some time. We’ve been doing testing, training, looked at technology, but we are in the process of obtaining these body cameras.”

Cychosz said that later this spring to early summer there will be publicity surrounding the implementation as the time comes.

These cameras will be on during all crime reports, however when a crime is not occurring or during special circumstances like parents talking with officers about their children, or victims reporting crime, the camera may be turned off.

On the topic of cameras, the chief also touched on security cameras in Campustown. The university and the city have been working together for several years now on increasing security in Campustown and city council recently approved funding for security cameras in the area.

“We are working with a contractor to make sure we’re on target for a timely installation of [the security cameras],” Cychosz said. 

Director of Student Wellness Mark Rowe-Barth talked about the state of substance abuse at Iowa State, as well as changes regarding Student Wellness including a crisis text line, the Green Dot Program and most prominently, an initiative coming to Iowa State for a collegiate recovery program which is being started in conjunction with Student Government.

“Right now we’ve been partnering with YSS Youth Standing Strong, we’ve been looking at this and talking with folks from other institutions for awhile now, and we’re talking about how we intentionally institutionalize this at Iowa State by next year,” Rowe-Barth said. 

Vice President Cody Smith touched on this as well, mentioning that he and several other members of Student Government traveled to Texas for the Big 12 Student Government Conference and shared the following at the Town Hall:

“Of all the 10 schools in the Big 12, only two of them do not have a Collegiate Recovery Program—one being Baylor and one being us,” Smith said. 

Since then Student Government and Student Health and Wellness have been working together to make substance abuse programs a priority on Iowa State’s campus.

The event concluded at 8:30 and the livestream of the event can be found here.

Editor’s note: This story originally incorrectly stated that this was the third town hall of the 2017-18 academic year.