Meet Your Government Day allows GSB, student interaction

United Residents of Off-Campus (U-ROC) Senator Danielle Nygard, left, speaks with Bridget Hogan, junior in event management and Johnny Hogan, sophomore in electrical engineering, about what changes should be made on campus Oct. 15 for Meet Your Government Day. Information on the student government along with free pizza was given out to get students more involved.

Caitlin Deaver

Close to 1,000 ISU students lined up for free pizza and beverages at this year’s Meet Your Government Day on Oct. 15, on Central Campus.

The event, co-sponsored by the Government of the Student Body and the Inter-Residence Hall Association, was intended to provide a casual environment for students to meet and give feedback to government leaders in both Iowa State University and Ames.

“We’ve been able to reach out to a lot of students today,” said Sen. Danielle Nygard, GSB university affairs chairwoman. “I’ve been able to get a lot of input by asking them what’s going on with them on campus and what they would like to see improved.”

One of the issues a constituent brought up with Nygard was reducing the number of wheels on campus sidewalks, including bicycles, skateboards and others.

Another student told Nygard some wanted to see more food carts on campus because they enjoy the options the carts provide.

Students were the ones to make the first interaction with student leaders during the event.

Micah Abel, senior in pre-business, discussed student fee allocations with GSB members during the event, as well as the different groups and services provided by GSB.

“It’s always important to know where this money’s going because every student pays [GSB] a little bit,” Abel said.

Other students were learning about the resources on campus, such as Student Legal Services, a GSB-funded legal aid office for ISU students that can assist with criminal law and administrative issues, among others services.

Michael Levine, one of the Student Legal Services attorneys, said students approached him with general questions about what he can do for them in case they needed legal advice, like with potential housing problems between landlords and tenants.

“We’ve gotten a lot of really interesting specific questions, though, too, and we’ll be following up with those as students make appointments to come and discuss it in-depth,” Levine said.

Levine also said he was happy to spread the word about Student Legal Services’ presence out to students, believing that few students fully know the services available to them on campus.

Not all organizations in attendance received student feedback or questions, though.

Gloria Betcher, 1st ward representative of Ames, attended Meet Your Government Day for the Ames City Council. Few students visited her table throughout the event.

“Students should care about issues like their tuition, experience at Iowa State, their experience living in the city of Ames,” Betcher said. “We don’t feel bad that nobody’s talking to us, but I feel bad about the general sense of apathy for government. It’s difficult to generate advice without students to talk to.”

Lissandra Villa, GSB ex-officio Ames City Council liaison, said that student issues are on City Council’s radar, but students need to show interest in those issues.

“I think a lot of [the lack of student interest in the Ames City Council] has to do with not enough information,” Villa said. “A lot of students leave Ames not even realizing there is the rest of Ames. It’s just very easy to get wrapped up in student life, so we have a tendency to not open our eyes to anything beyond Iowa State.”

At the GSB meeting following the event, Sen. Evan Abramsky, one of the organizers for event, said it was sufficient, but certain details like obtaining a banner ahead of time to promote the event, could improve future Meet Your Government Days and reach more students.

“I think we can do better,” Abramsky said.