Diversity and inclusion were big topics during StuGov meeting


ISU Student Government held their final meeting before Thanksgiving break on Nov. 18. The meeting began with an open forum.

Zach Clemens

It was a night full of discussion on diversity and inclusiveness at the weekly Senate meeting of Student Government on Wednesday night.

Reginald Stewart, the new vice president of diversity and inclusion at Iowa State, spoke to Student Government during the open forum about diversity and creating an inclusive atmosphere on campus.

Stewart explained to the Senate that he has spent his time on campus having a lot of conversations. He has spoken with over a hundred student clubs and organizations about inclusiveness and how to accomplish that.

“One key is to recognize the value of diversity,” Stewart said.

He told Student Government they have been doing a good job with trying to make campus more inclusive, but they could do better. He also explained that diversity just does not have to do with ethnicity.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that people focus on a particular [race] when it comes to diversity. It is much more than just ethnicity,” he said.

Sen. Maria Achevald asked Dr. Stewart what it would take to create an inclusive eco-system on campus.

Stewart said that one can accomplish that by never putting on a period on the definition of diversity.

“You have to give people an opportunity to express themselves and allow them to grow,” he said, “Also understanding at some point your objective is not to get someone to think what you think. The purpose is to say that worldviews are not the same, but that’s OK.”

Stewart said what Student Government can do to move the topic forward is make sure to keep diversity and inclusion on the forefront of the discussion, instead of only when incidents happen.

A bill was presented by Sen. George Weston to add a specific seat on the Senate for an international student to represent the diverse international and multicultural students on campus. This amendment to the Student Government constitution would be voted on during the election on March 1 and 2.

The bill was voted down by a vote of 20 to 13.

Weston pointed out that even though enrollment increased, international student population decreased.

A gallery member Abhijit Patwa, a senior in political science, took issue with the bill and advised that it would not fix diversity issues on campus.

“Having a token international student on this body is not going to change this problem,” Patwa said.

Sen. Weston said the international student tuition increase was partly because international students have been underrepresented.

Patwa countered that point.

“An international student on Senate would not have changed the tuition increase, the Board of Regents had already made up their mind, and it was a unanimous vote,” Patwa said. “I find it kind of disturbing or appeasing to add an international senator.”

Sen. Zackary Reece said he supported the resolution.

“I have spoken to a number of international students and the international student council and [international students] think this is a great idea,” Reece said. “If international leaders on our campus is pushing for this, why are we trying to curb this.”

Sen. Staudt and Vice Speaker of the Senate Michael Snook both said they worried about where you draw the line with representatives of ‘underrepresented’ groups on campus. Staudt also said he had a problem with this position being appointed and not elected like every other senator.

A bill to reform printing credits was presented to the Senate for a vote that passed with unanimous consent.

The authors of the bill want a more equitable system across campus. Currently, different buildings cost different amounts of credits and the bill calls to have the same amount across campus.

Speaker of the Senate Ben Crawford said that he has worked with chief information officer Jim Kurtenbach on a plan to reform the system and he is in favor of it.

Student Government unanimously approved the allocation of funds to the black student alliance for the Big XII black student leadership conference in Lawrence, Kansas this year. The conference will feature a number of leadership forums over multiple days. The Senate allocated $3,777.27 for the event.