City Council to confirm student liaison


Cedar Falls City Council is expected to approve Cade Olmstead (pictured) as the student liaison to the council.

LEZIGA BARIKOR, Campus Life Editor | [email protected]

Tonight, the Cedar Falls City Council will make the vote to approve the appointment of Cade Olmstead as the temporary UNI Student Liaison. According to the Feb. 20 regular meeting agenda for the CF City Council, the vote will approve the recommendation of Mayor Jim Brown for this new trial position to start with an end date of April 30.

According to 4th Ward Council Member Tom Blanford, after the trial period of the new position the city council will review the progress of the program and see if any changes need to be made to it.

“My goal is to then renew it as a permanent position,” said Blanford.

The most important vote, to confirm that UNI will have a student liaison within the City Council, has already occurred, so tonight in City Hall the vote is to confirm NISG’s appointment to the position. Blanford said a simple majority, four out of seven, is required to pass it, but he anticipates a unanimous vote.

The meeting will be open to the public at 7 p.m. tonight and can also be viewed on CFU cable channel 15.

Campaign Promise

The idea of creating this role of student liaison for UNI was an issue that Blanford talked about when campaigning for his position on the CF City Council. After being elected November 2015, Blanford started reaching out to the Northern Iowan Student Government (NISG), UNI students and administrators to get an idea for how to make the position work.

Blanford said he worked closely with Mayor Brown and “held a number of meetings with student body president, NISG senate administration, other city council members [and] city staff,” amongst others who would be affected by this decision.

School Board Equivalent

Drew Stensland, sophomore NISG College of Social and Behavior Sciences (CSBS) senator, was one of the students who worked alongside the mayor and city council members.

Stensland ran for Senate on the platform of bringing a student liaison into the picture.

“I’m actually from Cedar Falls originally, and one of the things that they implemented my sophomore year of high school was they actually put a student rep on the school board,” said Stensland. “I actually was able to serve in that role as the student rep for three years.

“When I came to UNI, I noticed […] Cedar Falls didn’t have that, so that’s why I ran on it and why I worked on the plan,” said Stensland.

Ideal Candidate

Blanford worked alongside former NISG President Katie Evans and Former Vice President Renae Beard to  jumpstart the initiative for a student liaison. Blanford said NISG has been a great partner on this initiative.

Stensland worked over the summer with NISG Director of Governmental Relations Alyssa Dixon, Vice President Avery Johnson and also met with Mayor Brown to plan for what the student liaison position would be.

Stensland said his vision is “that students will be able to have a voice” at the municipal level.

Making similar remarks, Blanford stated that ideally the liaison would be “somebody who is actively on UNI’s campus, actively connected to the student body, that can serve as an advisor to council on issues that will impact students or campus or anything related to that area.”

Olmstead, freshman public administration and sociology double major, said he knew before he arrived on campus that he wanted to work in NISG. He submitted his application over summer for the senate, and then went on to apply for the lower cabinet director for local government relations which he has served in until now.

“It’s been more [of] a transition basically,” said Olmstead. “It was kind of I think the intended purpose of this position from the very beginning when it was made, and now it’s really coming into fruition.”

Past Liaisons

The idea of having a student liaison for city council or as a non-voting member of the city council is nothing new in Iowa.

Iowa has precedence for this at both Iowa State University’s Government of the Student Body (GSB) and University of Iowa’s Student Government (UISG).

According to both Blanford and Stensland, UNI did have a student liaison with the Cedar Falls City Council around eight years ago. Stensland hypothesizes that the reason the position didn’t work was because the student was seated in the audience and not with the council members.

This time around, Blanford says the student will “be right next to the Chief of Police on the far side of the council chamber.”

In the Jan. 16 Cedar Falls  Committee of the Whole minutes, Mayor Brown cited GSB and UISG’s student liaisons when expressing interest in giving UNI representation in City Council meetings.

According to the minutes, Brown said, “This would be a non-voting member and would attend all the City Council meetings.”

Brown also said, “In doing this it will improve communication between the City and the University,” according to the minutes.

ISU and UI both list their student city council liaison member as part of their executive branch in the respective constitutions and bylaws and websites. NISG senators are volunteers, but the executive branch is monetarily compensated for their work according to the NISG constitution. According to Stensland, there is no salary for the city council liaison, but they are still in the works of deciding how the position will be compensated — possibly through internship credit.