Ignite Iowa plans to bring change to the UI through transparency and equity

Ignite Iowa, one of three tickets in the upcoming UISG election on April 3 and 4, looks to advocate for students and increase connections between student government and campus.


Michael Guhin

Ignite Iowa presidential candidate Noel Mills (right) and vice presidential candidate Sarah Henry (left) pose for a portrait on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

Ignite Iowa focuses on increasing transparency in student government and promoting equity and sustainability.

Led by presidential candidate Noel Mills and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Henry, the ticket comprises 21 candidates.

Mills, the current UISG director of finance, said her work with student organizations motivated her to run for a higher position in the organization.

“I’m really passionate about student organizations and working harder for them because they are the heartbeat of campus,” she said. “Being the director of finance, I got to work with them very closely. I kind of fell in love with making student government work for them better.”

Related: UISG presidential candidates debate platforms and campus issues

The ticket comprises both current members of UISG and candidates new to the organization. Second-year student Reagan Hansen, who is new to UISG, would like to increase student accessibility to the organization.

“When I first came to campus, I wasn’t really involved in a whole lot. I didn’t really know how to get involved,” Hansen said. “My thing is increasing accessibility, not just in UISG, in everything. These resources are out there, but a lot of them they just don’t know where to go, they don’t know where they are.”

Third-year student Valentine Komen had never thought of herself as a politician before Mills and Henry approached her to run with Ignite Iowa. She said they empowered her and made her feel she could have a voice in student government.

Henry wants to increase connections between students and the senators.

“I think one of the reasons we have not had as much student engagement on the side of UISG is because we are not good at explaining that what we do really does impact students and what we talk about in that room with people at those meetings is going to affect people day-to-day,” Henry said.

The party would also like to increase connections among student-athletes, UISG, and the rest of campus, with UI men’s tennis team member Jason Kerst running for a senatorial position on the ticket.

“I realized just this great disconnect we have between athletics and the general campus, and they’re both such crucial portions to this university, that gap is not being brought together,”’ he said. “For me, that’s my biggest passion, is trying to bring that together, because I’m involved in so many things on both sides, but that’s not something I see in athletes.”

Current UISG Sen. Elli Lenz emphasized increasing access to health care for students, especially mental-health resources, as part of Ignite Iowa’s platform.

Henry also stressed the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of the ticket’s platform.

“It’s the students on this campus who don’t feel comfortable at [a predominately white institution], who don’t feel supported by administration or, frankly, UISG,” Henry said. “We can, we need to fix that by diversifying UISG, working with culture centers more, building up that trust with a lot of smaller or even larger student organizations that are center on identities of [people of color], multicultural student organizations, smaller religious organizations — they don’t see that bond and that trust with UISG.”

Beyond increasing student access to UISG, Ignite Iowa focuses on advocating for the financial needs of students, specifically in areas of tuition, as well as fee increases. Mills said the perspective of working students is often ignored.

“There are students struggling to pay their rent and tuition,” she said. “They’re working 40 hours a week just to be on this campus, who maybe have to take years off of school or take a semester off, and not do very well in their classes. That is a student voice and a student perspective, and it’s too often overlooked.”