Student group demonstrates unexpectedly at Student Government meeting


Lani Tons/Iowa State Daily

Cody West, junior in biology, takes roll call as the new vice president of Student Government at the meeting at the Memorial Union on April 13.

Zach Clemens

The first session of the Student Government Senate was a rocky one as members of Leaders United for Change (LUCHA) commanded the attention of Wednesday’s meeting.

A group of students aligning with members of LUCHA entered the center of the room during the open forum, after Provost Jonathan Wickert spoke to the Senate. 

The members of LUCHA, formerly known as Latinos United for Change, said Iowa State has a serious problem with racism and exclusion.

“What are you going to do about marginalized groups on campus?” said Maria Alcivar, graduate student in human development and family studies, to open the discussion. “The disenfranchisement of minorities on this campus is real.”

The group members read a series of Yik Yaks in regard to the open letter from LUCHA that was published in The Daily on Tuesday and demanded responses from individual senators and new President of Student Government Cole Staudt.

They also pointed their anger toward Wickert and Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Martino Harmon, who later joined the meeting in attempt to mediate the situation.

“I don’t trust you, and I don’t trust you,” said Maurice Washington, doctoral candidate in agricultural and biosystems engineering, while pointing at Reginald Stewart, vice president for diversity and inclusion, and Kenyatta Shamburger, director of Multicultural Student Affairs, who both were present at the meeting. “We pay the same tuition but don’t get the same treatment.”

Wesley Harris, another member and first year doctoral student in the School of Education, said he was tired of discussion and wanted action, which was a dissent to Wickert’s statements that students needed to keep the discussion going. 

Harris also said the promotion of diversity and inclusiveness is a lie Iowa State sells.

Harmon said he was glad they were at the meeting, but also saddened they had to be there and a lot of work still needs to be done.

Staudt, in his third day in office, said he knows it is an important issue and that Yik Yak comments are “racist and unacceptable.” 

He also said he is here for all students and they need to come talk with him.

Jonathan Webb, lecturer in world languages and cultures, asked if anyone in the Senate felt nervous or had a racing heart.

“This is what [underrepresented groups] feel like on a daily basis,” he said.

Before LUCHA took the stage, Wickert gave the new Senate an update on construction and renovations around campus. 

He spoke on the new $88 million biosciences project that will see a large increase in biology teaching labs. Wickert applauded Student Government for how well it worked with his office to improve the testing centers.

The Senate unanimously confirmed all of Staudt’s nominations for his cabinet positions. Former Vice Speaker of the Senate Michael Snook was named the new finance director and chair of the finance committee, and Matthew Scott is the new chief of staff. 

A full list of executive cabinet members can be found on The Daily’s website.

The Senate elected Danielle Nygard as speaker of the Senate after she was selected over Sen. Roberto Ortiz and Sen. Charles Faunce. 

The Senate also nominated and confirmed Sen. Conner Tillo as the vice speaker.

The Senate unanimously confirmed Eric Schultz, senior in pre-business, to the open senate seat for the College of Business and Colton Kreber, junior in agricultural business, for a Senate seat for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.