StuGov vice presidential candidates stress the importance of student involvement


Vice presidential candidate Rachael Barnes responds to a question Tuesday evening during a Student Government debate against vice presidential candidate Cody Smith.

Alli Weaver

Student Government vice presidential candidates Cody Smith and Rachael Barnes are striving to connect with all students through their campaign as they enter their bid to be the next student leaders on campus.

With more than 40 people in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union on Tuesday night, both candidates answered questions during the first and only vice presidential debate this StuGov election cycle.

The debate, which was hosted by the Iowa State Daily, focused on four issues relating to students and Iowa State: transparency, campus climate, funding and community. 

Write-in vice presidential candidate Emeline Hanscel was also in attendance, even though she was not permitted to debate because of her write-in status. In an interview after the debate, she expressed that her platform is sympathetic to the lack of relationship between Student Government and its constituents.

“I think Student Government needs to have a backbone,” Hanscel said. 

Barnes, who is running alongside current vice speaker of the Senate Conner Tillo, also referenced the disconnect that students may have with Student Government.

“I am saddened that a lot of our students will go four years without ever having an interaction with Student Government or see the benefits that Student Government can bring to them,” Barnes said.

Should she get elected as vice president, Barnes said that she strives to “inspire all of our students to become involved and to grow a voice here.” She stressed that the conversation about involvement and inclusion of all students is continual.

Regarding transparency, Smith, who currently serves as the Student Government public relations chair and a senator, said he intends to create an accessible way for students to see exactly where their tuition money is going through a public database and make it digestible for them. 

He also touched on recognizing the different student voices on campus.

“I know how it feels to be a part of an underrepresented group,” Smith said. “It’s important that we make sure that all sides are heard.”

Also on transparency, Barnes said she and Tillo intend to implement a newsletter that will be sent to student organizations in order to inform the public of Student Government activity.

She also said that adding a third component of Student Government, demographics will improve the perspective of the organization.

Smith touched on this as well. 

“We know how complicated it can be to work with Student Government,” Smith said. He believes that making it easier to approach the Student Government will make it simpler to serve as the voice of the students.

Barnes said rewording various bylaws of Student Government to make them more clear will also help students to understand how the organization’s meetings and actions work.

During the open forum section, Matthew Fully, senior in sociology, asked the candidates to elaborate on why each of them feels they deserve his, as well as all other Cyclones’ votes.

Barnes’ response was to explain that she looks for someone who is genuine, passionate and cares about student issues. She further said that she embodies these characteristics, as well as strong leadership abilities.

For Smith, he said he felt his understanding of student issues made him a reputable candidate. 

“I understand the issues that students are so frustrated about,” Smith said. He said he was almost unable to return to the university after last year’s tuition increases, and that he has experience with being a minority, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Both further explained, as prompted by an audience question from a student, Colton Kramer, the most important aspects of their résumés in relation to their potential role as Student Government vice president.

Smith said the most important things were his earned respect of senators, as built up with time and effort, his experience with studying in Panama, a diverse perspective opportunity, as well as his various experiences in political and government situations from Iowa State to Capitol Hill lobbying.

“I am adequately prepared to serve as vice president because I’ve spent the last year in positions that have allowed me to build these relationships. Our campaign is about being genuine and making sure that we can deliver on the promises we make,” Smith said.

Barnes said she has been involved in WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) with a leadership position and focus on gender equality, the Iowa State Uganda program, and she will attend the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity. Her goal in these diversity endeavors is to bring varying perspectives together to achieve a common goal.

The presidential debates will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Campanile Room. Students can vote for president and vice president on March 7 and March 8, whether it’s Tillo-Barnes, West-Smith or write-ins Chavez-Hanscel.