Jarrett Romine, sophomore in biology, and Alan “AJ” Davis, sophomore in finance, said they know they’re underdogs in the race for the highest student office in Wildcat land. Neither has served in the Student Governing Association, while their opponents, Reagan Kays, senior in agribusiness, and Cody Kennedy, junior in math and education, have extensive student senate experience; nor are they affiliated with the greek community, even though greek ties have proven so important in previous elections.
“I think people are counting us out for a few reasons,” Romine said. “We’re young, inexperienced, independent, we don’t have the funding the other guys do. But I really believe we’ve got some great platforms and I’m excited to let people know about them.”
The idea for their campaign was born on the sixth floor of Haymaker Hall, where the two were potluck roommates last year. According to Romine, the inspiration came from their knowledge that some students at K-State want a “normal guy” as president.
“Not to dis any former or current presidents, but you don’t usually see them at football games, they’re not all that approachable,” Romine said. “We’re just another couple of guys. It’s not about being president for me, it’s about being relatable and making K-State better.”
One of their campaign’s main focuses is to improve the SafeRide program at K-State. If you ask Romine, in its current version, it’s underutilized and ineffective.
“We use student fees to cover it, and if we do it halfway, it’s going to be a waste,” Romine said. “If you go to (the University of Kansas) campus, it’s well known and it’s the way to get around on the weekend.”
Another issue Romine and Davis plan to confront is on-campus parking.
“It’s a huge problem right now, and it needs to be addressed,” Romine said. “The way I see it, we’ve got huge parking lots by the football stadium. We can charge $100 a year for students to park there and if we get just 1 percent of the student body to sign up, that’s $20,000 we could use to bus people to campus.”
The two also want to open up Bosco Student Plaza on certain weekends for a community market, which Romine said would encourage students to start business ventures and bring increased opportunities to campus. The idea is an expansion of one from a candidate last year who proposed a farmer’s market on Bosco Plaza.
As a more lasting monument, Romine and Davis said they plan to look into putting a pond on campus, possibly on the lawn in front of Anderson Hall.
“With a pond, we can add to the appeal of campus without obstructing the view of Anderson,” Romine said. “We can throw some Wi-Fi routers out there and give students a place to go other than the library and the Union on nice spring days. It’s as easy as finding a donor to throw their name on it.”
Romine added that Davis had the idea of using that space for a campus event for students, such as a concert. He said other universities often bring in high-profile acts to perform for students, and wonders why K-State can’t do the same.
“I’m not going to say I’m gonna redo KSOL or anything like that, because honestly, if I knew that much about computers we’d have a big, fancy website like (our competitors),” Romine said. “It’s all about continuing to polish what K-State already is.”
After running unopposed during the first part of their campaign, Kays and Kennedy said they welcome the competition Romine and Davis bring.
“I think it’s really good,” Kays said. “I’m proud of Jarrett and AJ for coming out. I think it gives us a little extra energy and motivation. We were going to go all the way to the end and push as hard as we could, but this gives us a little bit more drive.”
Brandon Painter, senior in marketing, was a vice presidential candidate in last year’s election. His running mate Blair Wilen, senior in marketing, and him were in a similar boat to Romine and Davis as students unaffiliated to the greek system with no prior student government experience.
“It makes things pretty hard,” Painter said. “You’re starting from absolutely nothing and you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. There’s a really steep learning curve.”
Painter said he and Wilen tried to use social media to reach out to the masses and even the playing field, and looked to build relationships with high-profile people on campus to gain endorsements. Although the pair fell short of the presidency, Painter had advice to offer Romine and Davis.
“Don’t be afraid of anyone,” Painter said. “It’s almost a David and Goliath type story. Keep your eyes on the prize, use your friends and family for support, and keep on pushing until the end.”