Team Cody: Empowering Iowa Staters

In a small office in the Memorial Union, Cody West and Cody Smith spend more than 20 hours a week together working on issues concerning students. If they aren’t in the office or in class they are meeting with students, administrators, legislators or attending the State of Iowa, Board of Regents meetings.

West, a biology senior, is serving as president of the Iowa State University

Student Government and Smith, an agricultural and life sciences education and political science senior, is serving as vice president. Together they form “Team Cody.” The two received 54 percent of the student vote on March 8.

“One thing we talked about in the campaign is we are genuine people and when we say  something we mean it. If we are putting something out there— we wholeheartedly believe it,” Smith says.

Smith grew up on a livestock farm in Indiana, and says he’s always had a passion for agriculture. He would like to pursue a career in ag policy. Smith has been involved with the Agricultural Education Club, Collegiate FFA Chapter, the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors. He says serving as vice president has introduced him to a broader range of issues.

“This has been great because it has expanded my understanding of issues surrounding healthcare and higher education,” Smith says.

The two have been friends since they met in an agricultural education and studies learning community during their first semester on campus. West, who kept busy applying for medical school and serving on the Iowa State presidential search committee, grew up in Altoona. West says he’s been a life-long Cyclone and has family roots in agriculture. He’s been involved in freshmen council, pre-med club, Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, University Honors Program and was a medical research assistant in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“I was doing practical, relevant research my first year at Iowa State,” West says. “That was a great opportunity for me, but as I got involved with student affairs I realized I like connecting with others and that’s my calling. I’m hoping to practice medicine and someday return to higher education.”

Both West and Smith worked with Iowa State Interim President Ben Allen to address issues such as tuition increases and campus climate. Allen says he’s impressed with the student leaders who are effective advocates for students and excellent ambassadors for the university.

“I get my best advice from student leaders because they are there for the students. They are thoughtful, helpful, civil and if they disagree, they do so in a manner that encourages conversation,” Allen says. “That’s one of the great things about doing this job—I get to interact with students like Smith and West.”

As seniors, they both see the need to help undergraduates get more involved in Student Government.

“We’re trying to delegate more and give undergraduate students a chance to be involved, so  we’re more focused on mentoring,” Smith says.

Last year both served in Student Government in different capacities. Smith led the public relations committee and West served as vice president. Both realized some of the issues they want to address can’t be solved in one year. Their hope is to begin the discussion and address issues such as lease gaps, improved communications, mental health awareness and the need for a more inclusive and diverse campus.

“People don’t expect a biology major to be involved in student government,” West says. “But for me it’s been great to expand on my passion for medicine and focus on areas of student wellness, whether that be physical or mental health.”

The two created a new cabinet position to address mental health issues. Nathan Pfister, a senior in industrial engineering, is serving as director of mental health awareness. Pfister, who started a suicide prevention group on campus, welcomed the chance to serve on the Student Government cabinet.

“It’s very important to have leaders who help students seek mental health assistance. They’ve done a great job of bringing up a topic most people shy away from,” Pfister says. “They work great as a team and their true goal is to help students. They’re always willing to reach out.”

The Student Government also is working with the Iowa State Student Affairs Office to sponsor the Green Dot Bystander Intervention program, which is focused on campus safety. West says the purpose of the program is to empower peers with the tools to promote safety.

“Green Dot is a training program, that basically shows students what good and bad interactions may look like in violent situations,” West says. “It’s a simple way to give students the resources to help their peers.”

Smith says working to improve communications with students also is a priority. One tool is the Cyclone 101 class, which teaches basic financial literacy, shares campus resources and discusses diversity and inclusion.

Both agree serving on Student Government allows them to give back to the Iowa State community, and they are thankful for opportunities they’ve found on campus.

“Iowa State has provided countless opportunities and because of that I’m a well-rounded individual,” West says.

“We are surrounded by amazing people,” Smith says. “We want to empower other students to find what they are passionate about.”