The Student Senate chamber was unusually crowded Thursday night, due to a big funding issue. About 30 members of the K-State military veterans group showed up to plead their case for a veterans’ center on campus. They stood silently around the edges of the room, watching the proceedings.
Suzanne Lueker, director of Non-Traditional and Veteran Student Services, said when switching from military life to college life, many veteran students do not feel like they belong at K-State and want to have a place to connect.
“Providing someone who has a shared experience, just being able to find all the resources in one spot would be helpful,” Lueker said. “It’s so hard to not know where to go if you haven’t been in school.”
Lueker said the center would address other needs as well, and suggested it could provide academic and financial advisers to help veterans navigate the system.
Kevin Brown, the garrison commander at Fort Riley, and Jeffery Saddler, vice president for the K-State military veterans club, both gave speeches persuading the senators to consider the bill.
“To do that we need the veterans’ center to show them support,” Lueker said. “The services are geared toward traditional students. There are gaps left in services provided and that is what we are here to face. A lot of presenters don’t want to come to K-State because they don’t have an office to set things up in that are only for veterans.”
Lueker said other colleges around the nation, like Oklahoma University, have their own veterans’ centers.
Annie Oliver, vice president for the student body and chair of the Student Centered Tuition Enhancements Committee, reported her committee’s decision on the center to the body.
“Based on the response we heard from veterans on campus, we felt it was necessary to review the organization’s requests,” Oliver said. “That was when we re-reviewed the application and hashed out the budget which would be $21,978.”
Nathan Spriggs, junior in agricultural economics, sponsored an amendment that would raise funding for the center to $37,128, and enable the center to hire two graduate teaching assistants.
After much debate, the Student Senate passed a bill allocation $31,390 to funding the veteran’s center.
Tom Reust, president of K-State military veterans club, said the group was thankful to get the funding.
“We are very happy with the amount of funds for the veterans’ center and we are very appreciative of all the work the sentators put in and we would like to thank all the people, including Sam Brinton of LGBTQ, for their support,” Reust said.
In addition, employees of Chartwells dining service gave a report on a new catering service with Einstein Bagel’s that would provide a cheaper catering alternative to student groups.
The employees also announced the Denny’s Restaurant in the K-State Student Union is scheduled to open March 28.