ISU student bridges two bodies of government

(R to L): Vice President Megan Sweere, Speaker of the Senate Ben Crawford, Vice Speaker Michael Snook and City Council Student Liaison Sam Schulte take part in the joint meeting between Student Government and Ames City Council on Wednesday. 

Christie Smith

It’s late on a Tuesday night, and one ISU student has sat through four hours of discussion about building regulations, snow removal and just how secure windows need to be to prevent students from throwing things out of them.

Although he doesn’t have a vote to cast with the six elected members of Ames City Council, he does have a voice.

Sam Schulte, senior in biochemistry, said he prefers civics to politics. Now, with his skill in civics, he’s attempting to serve the ISU student body by acting as its advocate.

Since his first semester at Iowa State, Schulte has served students as a senator in Student Government.

Once Dan Breitbarth was elected Student Government president last spring, he had to appoint students to fill his cabinet. When Schulte’s application for the ex-officio representative for City Council crossed Breitbarth’s desk, he knew Schulte was the man for the position.

“He was by far the most qualified candidate that we had,” Breitbarth said. “It was pretty much a no-brainer.”

Schulte, a talented pianist and dedicated student whose undergraduate research on plants for medicine and agriculture has contributed to several studies, now functions as the link between the city of Ames and the students at Iowa State. 

Schulte grew up in West Des Moines, where his mother started an organization to care for the homeless in the metro area. Schulte said his parents taught him the importance of civic duty and community service at a young age.

In high school, Schulte poured his energy into debate team. He became the state co-champion in public forum in 2012. Schulte credits his ability to see both sides of an issue to the hours he spent researching opposing arguments for debate tournaments.

His experiences on debate team taught Schulte that there are not only multiple ways to view a problem but also multiple ways to solve a problem.

“I’m really not interested in politics too much, per se,” Schulte said. “More just civics and being involved and aware of what happens in the community.”

As a senator in Student Government, Schulte spearheaded the first Cyclone Market as a replacement for the once-popular Veishea Village. More than 30 student organizations were involved in the money-raising event.

Schulte now speaks for students on a platform outside of the university.

At least twice monthly for scheduled meetings, and often more frequently for special meetings and workshops, Schulte spends his Tuesday evenings at City Hall sitting with council members and considering Ames’ most pressing issues.

Councilwoman Gloria Betcher said Schulte’s role is important not only as a representation of the student body but also an asset to the city.

“He reminds us that students are part of the community too,” Betcher said.

During his time as a non-voting member of the City Council, Schulte has used his voice to lobby for change that will positively impact students.

“He always advocates for the students’ rights and tries to do everything he can for the university and for the students he represents,” Breitbarth said.

Schulte has largely focused on issues that affect the safety and well-being of ISU students — making campus streets a priority for snow removal and working to change parking regulations in Campustown in order to prevent students from drinking and driving.

Schulte said that before his term as ex-officio is over, he hopes to accomplish one major goal for the university and the city — a joint commission of representatives from students, faculty and city members to address issues that impact the relationship between Iowa State and the surrounding community.

Betcher said the commission would be a valuable asset to Ames, and she values Schulte’s partnership in the endeavor.

“It’s very important to understand there are other residents in Ames, not just students,” Betcher said. “[He] puts the student perspective into the larger picture.”

When asked if he sees himself running for office after college, Schulte laughed.

His future plans include a Ph.D., an M.D. and, hopefully, a job as a professor. Schulte did not speculate on the things he might accomplish post-Iowa State, but his peers weren’t shy with their predictions.

“His future is very bright,” Breitbarth said. “Someday he might cure cancer.”