Cody & Cody: Reflecting on a semester of change, growth

Cody Smith (left) and Cody West (right).

Courtesy of Blaze Best

Cody Smith (left) and Cody West (right).

Alex Connor

Cody West and Cody Smith have been working within a period of transition.

Last March, the duo secured their bid for Student Government president and vice president. Eleven days later, then-President Steven Leath announced he would be submitting his resignation from Iowa State to instead continue as president of Auburn University.

A month and a half later, the Board of Regents would undergo a leadership change with a new president and two new board members.

Additionally, Kim Reynolds would assume the governor’s office in late May.

Everything, it seemed, was shifting.

From Student Government president to the president of the United States, 2017 was a year of elections and transitions, something West and Smith felt they could and have tried to use to their full advantage.

“I think it’s made us be more flexible and adaptable than a lot of other people in the past,” Smith said.

West agrees.

“It doesn’t set you back, but you have to be a lot more methodical and thoughtful on how you approach certain things knowing that the same members haven’t been around the table during the entire process,” West said.

With only a few months left until the end of their administration, West and Smith are optimistic of what they have left to accomplish but understand the time restriction they have to work with.

“If something is not almost done by December, you cannot get it done,” West said. “That’s not being cynical, that’s just the pace things move.” 

The two have been dealt a different set of cards, too. For West, serving on the presidential search committee has taken up a large portion of his fall semester.

With him being on the search committee, Smith said, West often “had to work on that rather than something else.”

Additionally, the duo feel, because of their background in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and because they served on President-select Wendy Wintersteen’s advisory council when she was dean, they are going to be relied upon to help her with her transition in the coming months.

“It’s going to be definitely getting her on page with the university in a broader sense and I think she is going to rely on us a lot for that to do some of that heavy lifting,” West said.

However, with nearly two years under his belt of working with administrators and nearly a year for Smith, they feel they’re “at the point now where we know most of the people in positions of leadership on campus.”

“We hope to use that to our advantage. I also think it’s really interesting too, we used the transition period to improve at all levels,” Smith said.

He noted that even during the administration, the campus climate as notably changed.

“Here at the university, President [Benjamin] Allen has been way more responsive to campus events and way more sensitive to the feelings of minority students and more vocal about that,” he said. “It’s very obviously changed the culture and tone here at Iowa State compared to when President Leath was here.”

So, what are West and Smith hoping to accomplish in the remainder of the term? Here’s a brief rundown, with a wide range of topics from athletics and residency to safety and affordability.

  • Residential rating system: “The residential rating system is a student rating system for housing. I think that is a great thing to get started and I hope that whoever comes in next will continue that conversation. I, at least, want to have the guidelines and what that badge of honor looks like, what are the stipulations, how do we get business on board? Also, how can we tie Rent Smart into that? That is definitely one of my primary things,” Smith said.
  • College recovery community: “One idea that wasn’t in our platform at all but I want to start at least the conversation on is… a collegiate recovery community idea. Basically, just providing a support community for students who are struggling with substance abuse — whether that is illicit drugs or alcohol use. I feel like there are resources here we are not utilizing the best that we could, and then maybe how we could streamline that,” Smith said.
  • Collaboration with the athletics department: “One thing we do not do a whole lot of — used to but not anymore — is work with athletics. I don’t know if we do any of these already, but one is providing a student discount for concessions at games. Second thing, West Virginia started a really cool program this year where they started a raffle for first generation and Pell-eligible students for season ticket holders. I think that would be a really cool thing to start at Iowa State — just providing that opportunity for those students,” West said.
  • Low-interest loan program: “We realized that with tuition going up, especially if the 7 percent plan were to go in effect, we would have to target resources to the students who need it the most in order to keep our enrollment steady. The baseline point that we’re trying to get home is that this could be a program where the state could see a great return on investment,” Smith said.
  • Tuition increases: “Because the state regents have pretty much given us their word that unless the university was cut an ungodly amount, we would only do one tuition increase this year. We are going to be in the room next semester navigating what the students can handle as far as that tuition increase goes and also if we are going to have to look at cutting programs at Iowa State, and I think they are going to include us in those conversations,” West said.
  • Town-hall program: “One thing that I’m really proud of is how we have been reforming our town-hall program. We’ve seen it go from one student to about 20 the last time we had one. It proves the value of meeting students where they are and responding to different changes as you see fit,” Smith said.