Meet the Student Government candidates running for president, vice president

Cole Staudt and Cody West are running for Student Government president and vice-president, respectively. They are up against two other ballots for the executive slots, but students decide their next leaders on March 1 and 2. 

Zach Clemens

Staudt, West want to make Iowa State great

Cole Staudt, senior in political science and public relations, and Cody West, sophomore in biology, hope to make Iowa State great with the student body’s vote for Student Government executive office.

Both said they have experience working with students and administration and have specific plans to make Iowa State great.

Staudt, who is running for the presidency, was a member of Inter-Residence Hall Association for two years before joining Student Government.

He has had a few different positions within IRHA, including director of finance, director of IT and vice president for a semester. He has been in the Student Government Senate for a year and serves on the finance committee. Being on IRHA has given him a unique perspective, he said.

“It really trained me on how to work with administrators and students, and to [bring together] those two differing points of view,” Staudt said.

Cody West, the vice presidential candidate, is a senator in Student Government who represents the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He started on Freshmen Council and is currently on the public relations and rules committee of Student Government.

“[I am just] wanting to improve that atmosphere around you, making it the best experience as possible,” West said. “It’s something I can do to give back to the university.”

Staudt and West believe there are things at Iowa State they can improve.

“There are a lot of issues on campus that we think we can solve,” Staudt said.

One of those issues is the university’s Dead Week policy. Staudt and West believe Iowa State needs to adopt a new policy that enables students to be more successful during Finals Week. That starts when final projects are due. The candidates are calling for no homework, quizzes, tests and projects due after the Wednesday of Dead Week.

The ideal policy for them would also require no class on that Thursday and Friday and encourage teachers to hold review sessions during normal class periods. Staudt and West also want students to have 24-hour access to the library, which currently keeps normal hours during Dead Week.

Staudt and West said 90 percent of students they talked to said they have tests, homework, etc. due on the Thursday and Friday of Dead Week.

“We are taking the initiative to show administration and faculty how big of an issue this really is,” Staudt said.

A drug and alcohol amnesty policy is also a big platform for the Staudt and West campaign.

“[We want a policy where] you can make sure if someone is in need of help, or you yourself is in need of help, you can call the authorities and get that help and you don’t have to worry about disciplinary action against you,” West said.

West said it is simply just to keep ISU students safe.

The reformation of printing credits is a policy the campaign wants to accomplish. The cost of credits to print is different in just about every building on campus. They want a more equitable system across campus.

“We are starting to see that movement already [within administration], so it’s something we think we can accomplish pretty quickly,” Staudt said.

The candidates would also work on simplifying funding for different student organizations and groups. They want to create an excellence fund that would fund any student or group that has a great idea and needs funding.

They would still have to be approved by Student Government but would not have to jump through as many hoops and meet a list of criteria to be eligible for funding.

Both Staudt and West have a lot of experience leading, working with students and administration. Through their various leadership positions, they believe they have the knowledge and experience to get things done and improve students’ lives at Iowa State.

They plan to reach out to as many students as possible throughout the month, meeting face to face to get the word out.

“We are looking at long-term changes that will actually affect and improve their student experience,” Staudt said. “We have the experience to get things done.”

You can read more about the candidates on their website,, or their Facebook page Staudt-West.

Turn up ISU with Raghul and Akol

Raghul Ethiraj, senior in aerospace engineering, and Akol Dok, senior in political science, hope to turn up Iowa State with the student body’s vote for Student Government president and vice president.

Ethiraj, who is running for the presidency, is an international student from India who has been in more than 15 leadership positions on campus, including the Student Union Board, Student Government and a former opinion writer for the Daily. He has been a community adviser for four years now and is a commissioner for the Ames Human Relations Committee.

Dok is a multicultural student who has been involved in the African Students Association, the Black Student Alliance, IRHA and is currently an associate justice on the Student Government Supreme Court.

“It’s obvious there is a lack of multicultural and international student representation on Student Government, and the best way to change something is to get involved in it,” Ethiraj said.

Ethiraj was previously an engineering senator for Student Government and now works directly with Ames mayor Ann Campbell on the Human Relations Committee, and with Dok an associate justice, coupled with their diverse backgrounds, they believe they are great candidates for the presidency office.

“Akol and I have so many different leadership experiences,” Ethiraj said. “[With our diverse backgrounds] it makes us a unique combination.”

Dok and Ethiraj want to “turn up” Iowa State through four major initiatives, one being heated CyRide stops.

“We don’t want people freezing out there, so we want to turn up Iowa State with heated bus stops,” Ethiraj said.

Ethiraj and Dok point out that a neighboring university — the University of Minnesota provides heated bus stops to its students, so it is possible.

Another initiative they want to promote is a multilingual MyState app. The MyState app is a resource with maps, class schedules and CyRide schedules for students but is currently only offered in English.

“Most online sources have a default language, and you can change the language, but the MYState app does not have that,” Dok said. “That would be a great feature for international students.”

Ethiraj pointed out that 10 percent of the enrollment is international students and that it is unfortunate and actually very sad that this is not an option for people who use that app.

“We want to get those students [international students] involved in the university and Student Government so they have a quality voice,” Ethiraj said.

The third initiative is improving and expanding campus safety. The ISU Help Van and Safety Escort only escorts students from one campus location to another. They want to expand it to escort students off campus as well, even in the middle of the night.

“This evolved out of having one-on-one conversations with over 300 students on campus,” Ethiraj said. “They need to be able to get home safely.”

Another initiative they want to provide students with is a free, customizable portfolio website that students can use to share their work with prospective employers.

“We want to help provide a help desk, customized Iowa State templates, a content management site,” Ethiraj said. “Everything so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel, spending weeks trying to learn how to build a website.”

They pointed out that there is a web space for students to use to display their work, but it is not easily customizable and is a lengthy URL.

We want to leverage the existing infrastructure, not have a hidden URL, bring in the expertise we already have and put them together and make something great,” Ethiraj said.

Ethiraj and Dok said these things are all obtainable within the timeframe of their time in office if elected.

“We did not want ideas that take five years down the road to implement, Ethiraj said. “We wanted things we can get done in the time we are in office.”

They want to bring representation of international and multicultural students to Student Government, and they need the help of all Cyclones.

“We want to turn up Iowa State and we need that energy [from students] to get that accomplished,” Ethiraj said. “We want to bridge the gap between the international student community and the representation in Student Government.”

To learn more about the candidates, go to their website,, or visit their Facebook page, Raghul and Akol for Student Government 2016.

Rebuild with Reece and Button

Zackary Reece, junior in political science, and Cole Button, sophomore in finance, are asking for students’ votes for executive office in the upcoming Student Government elections.

Reece, who is running for president, is a United Residents of Off-Campus senator, and Cole Button, the vice presidential candidate, is an Inter-Residence Hall Association senator. They both serve on the rules committee of Student Government and between the two of them, they represent all undergraduates at Iowa State.

Button originally approached Reece about running for office.

“Zack is the ideal president,” Button said. “If I wanted anybody to be president it would be him and that’s why I approached him. He is the president the students deserve.”

Reece originally thought about getting an internship and possibly studying abroad before deciding to run for president, but has since changed his mind.

“I think serving the students and representing them to the best of my ability is a much more important thing than studying abroad or anything like that,” Reece said. “This is something I’d much rather pursue.”

The main platforms Reece and Button are promoting can be summed up in three words: health, safety and comfort.

“We care about the student experience here,” Reece said. “Cole and I want to make sure everybody has the best experience at Iowa State.”

The Thielen Student Health Center is a big issue for them. It now has a new director, Erin Baldwin, who is working with the Student Health Advisory Committee, and Reece is currently the liaison between the committee and Student Government.

“We want to make sure we are reaching the goals that the [Keeling] report laid out and going beyond those goals,” Reece said. “We want to have a superior health center on campus.”

Reece also believes student mental health is a serious issue that is usually swept under the rug and feels administration and Thielen need to take a serious look at getting students the care they need.

With the increasing enrollment at Iowa State, gyms on campus have naturally seen an increase in activity. Reece and Button want to see more equipment such as more weights and dip belts in the gyms.

“We just want students to be comfortable,” Reece said.

The safety of their platform includes better lighting on campus. Button recently introduced a bill in Student Government that was tabled that would have replaced all of the lights between Carver Hall and Parks Library with LED bulbs, and construct four new light poles in that area.

“That area would be much, much brighter [and safer] than is currently is,” Button said.

Button would also push for more CyRide shelters, something that has become a concern with the influx of new students each year. He also got student legal services to include an area on its website dedicated to sexual assault and what help and services are available to survivors of assaults.

“I just wanted to help with sexual assaults anyway I can, and [those are] the solutions I have thought of so far,” Button said.

The comfort aspect of their campaign includes multiple initiatives that would make life easier and more comfortable for ISU students. A big issue is improving campus Wi-Fi.

“It’s gotten better than it was, but with increased enrollment, it needs to speed up improvement,” Button said. “We have to continue to make improvements.”

Aging buildings also present a concern. Desks in Gilman Hall and other buildings are very uncomfortable, Button said. He challenged ISU President Steven Leath to try these desks. Leath later agreed that something needs to be done about the aging infrastructure, Button said.

“I’m going to continue to push for new desks in Gilman and any other desks that need replacing,” Button said.

Reece and Button said they just want to improve the student experience on campus.

“Health, safety, comfort is something every student can obtain here at Iowa State,” Reece said. “Shaping the student experience is something Cole and [I] are all about.”

To learn more about the candidates, view their Facebook page at Rebuild with Reece and Button or their twitter account @Rebuild_ISU.