Student body presidential candidates square off in Union Courtyard

Photo by Zach Werhan | Collegian Jarret Romine, sophomore in biology, addresses a question at the annual SGA debate held in the Union Courtyard. Romine and Aj Davis, sophomore in finance, are running against Reagan Kays, senior in agribusiness, and Cody Kennedy, junior in secondary education and math.

With the primary elections just around the corner on Feb. 25, the two candidates for student body president took the stage with their running mates in the K-State Student Union Courtyard Wednesday afternoon. The four faced questions from a moderator and students in the audience.

The opening question dealt with the candidates’ positions on rising tuition and how they plan to address the issue. Both Reagan Kays and Jarrett Romine stated their dedication to keeping K-State as affordable as possible. Romine said he plans to pursue initiatives that won’t cause tuition or privilege fees to climb, and Kays plans to reach out to legislators, alumni and donors to communicate the importance of keeping costs down.

Several questions dealt with the candidates’ platforms and their respective implementations strategies. Kays talked primarily about the effort required to achieve his goal of a medical amnesty program, which would provided limited legal protection for students when seeking medical help for a friend as a result of illegal activity, like underage drinking. Romine focused on his plan to improve the university’s SafeRide program, as well as an idea to construct a pond on Anderson Lawn.

In response to a question about the timelines of their platform initiatives, Kays and Cody Kennedy said they hope to achieve streamlined tutoring services and implementation of the communication tool OrgSync (which was purchased by the Student Governing Association this term) by the end of their term. Medical amnesty, on the other hand, they said could take up to two years. Romine and AJ Davis said they can accomplish an improved SafeRide program and alternative parking plan within their term.

Both platforms were happy with their performance in the debate.

“We obviously didn’t have as professional answers as (Kays and Kennedy), but I’m not going to say I’m going to do things I can’t,” Romine, sophomore in biology, said.

His running mate emphasized that what the two lack in experience, they’ll make up for with effort.

“We’re not the most experienced, but we’re gonna work hard to make sure everyone gets what they want,” Davis said. “We’re not gonna be using a blog, we’re going to be setting up out here and making sure people have the chance to interact with us face-to-face.”

Kays said he thought most people in attendance at the debate already knew who they were voting for, but was nonetheless happy with the opportunity to pitch his ideas.

“I think the most important point from today is that students need to work with administration,” Kays, senior in agribusiness, said. “We got a lot of questions about that and I think it’s important to put forth those student needs, and I think both campaigns learned that today.”

Zach Stroth, junior in family studies and human services and student senator in the College of Human Ecology, said he has yet to decide how to cast his vote in the election. Stroth said he learned about both campaigns through the debate but still has unanswered questions.

“To me, [Romine’s and Davis’] SafeRide program is still unclear,” Stroth said. “Shifting their wording around to make it more clear that they’re improving an existing system and not creating one would help them, but I think it would be beneficial to improve that system, so that’s one thing I really liked about theirs.”

Stroth also said he identifies with Kays’ and Kennedy’s plans to improve communication between organizations and streamlining the tutoring service.

“Their platform is to actually implement (OrgSync) and get everyone connected on it, while if they didn’t, it’s pretty uncertain how that (implementation) would work,” Stroth said.

Romine mentioned that he wished he’d had an opportunity to ask Kays to clarify his plans on OrgSync.

“They admitted it’s already been passed through SGA and they said they’re just promoting it basically, that’s all they really have to do,” Romine said. “We can promote just as well as they can. They need to be more specific in saying they’re promoting OrgSync and not implementing it, because it’s already been implemented if you ask me.”

Stroth said he did put a great deal of stock in the way the candidates presented themselves.

“There’s a certain formality you need in a debate like that, and anytime you present yourself in front of a lot of people,” Stroth said. “With a candidate for presidency, I’m going to take that into account.”