Student Government votes to fund ASL interpreter for upcoming debates

Senators vote for a new chair for Student Initiatives Committee during the Jan. 26 meeting. 

Charles Klepps

The Iowa State Student Government passes a bill increasing funding for the Election Commission so that American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters will be involved in future debates. 

After much discussion over the financial and inclusivity implications, the bill passed with a 20-5 vote. The goal of the bill is to create an electoral process where hearing impaired students on campus have equal opportunity to gain information on the candidates. 

Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Alyannah Buhman, senior in criminal justice, talked about the importance of establishing a culture that emphasizes inclusivity around campus. 

“One of our main goals this year was to talk about diversity and inclusion and how we can be a more inclusive student government,” Buhman said during the meeting. “There are other students out there that we need to think about, and when we are able bodied and able minded it’s not something that we always think about.”

From a financial perspective, the bill is asking for about $1200 in order to fund ASL translators. Iowa State is listed as having 35 total students who are hearing impaired. 

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Senator Devin Devore, junior in agriculture and society, said he was not arguing the bill on the basis of accessibility, but instead was more worried about the financial implications. 

“I think that accessibility is something that we’re all for,” Devore said. “But I am disappointed in the irresponsibility some of the senators are having with student money. I’m comfortable allocating $500, but I’m not comfortable allocating $1200.”

The Student Government was also busy all night rearranging seats on various committees, as well as electing a new chair to the Student Initiatives Committee. 

Schilletter University Village Senator Jennifer Seth won the Chair in a close 15-8 decision over Residence Hall Senator Edward Mahoney, a senior in computer science. 

Seth talked about the importance of the position as well as shared some future goals that she has for the Committee when she addressed the Senate during the meeting. 

“If I were to be elected as the chair of the committee, I would definitely focus a little bit more on fun events for students,” Seth said. “Obviously, there are other things that are really important like mental health, but we also want to create a student experience where we let students have fun on campus.”

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee seats were updated by the Senate. After having no contact with the members, the Senate unanimously passed a bill removing these two from their seats. 

Following the removal of former members, College of Design Senator Emi Thornton, a senior in architecture-professional degree was unanimously confirmed to a seat on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. 

Three students were also unanimously confirmed as At-Larges to the Sustainability Committee. Olivia Miller, sophomore in environmental science, Alex Branham, senior in environmental science, and Maithilee Bahirat, freshman in environmental science, are officially on the committee. 

The Student Government also unanimously confirmed Varsha Pesaru, freshman in computer engineering, and Katelyn Proctor, sophomore in pre-business, as voting members to the Election Commission. 

The violation process for the Election Commission was also reviewed by the Student Government. The commission will now work jointly with the Attorney General when dealing with all future violations. This bill passed on a 19-7 decision. 

The meeting began with the Senate passing two financial bills unanimously. The Iranian Students’ and Scholars’ Association (ISSA) and the Iowa State Equestrian Hunt each received more funding. 

ISSA will use this funding for a celebration event for up to 400 Iowa State students and people from the Ames community. The Equestrian Hunt team will host another competition with the additional funding, in hopes of qualifying more students for regionals. 

The Student Government Senate meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays in the Campanile Room at the Memorial Union.