Alex Bahr, sophomore in communication studies, and Matt Tobaben, junior in biology, are running an unconventional campaign. The write-in candidates made it past the primaries with 5.04 percent of the vote, despite what might seem like a conspicuous absence of concrete platforms and a tongue-in-cheek style of campaigning.
The candidates shared with the Collegian why they chose to run and their goals for the campaign.
Collegian: Why did you decide to run for student body president and vice president?
Bahr & Sled: We decided to run for student body president and vice president because we believe it is important for students to have a choice on who they want to lead our university and making the decisions that will affect all of us.
Collegian: What would you consider are your qualifications to run for office?
Bahr & Sled: Our qualifications are probably slightly unconventional. We believe that anyone can run for not only this office, but any office. We believe that if you feel like you can make an impact here at K-State you should run. We believe this is where we fall. We may not have the most shining resume, but we believe that we can make an impact here.
Collegian: What are some areas where the university and SGA can improve on?
Bah & Sled: SGA is doing some amazing things not only here on campus, but in Topeka as well. Between lobbying for Lifeline 911 and continuing to fund this university’s organizations, we believe they are continuing to make K-State the best university in the country.
One thing we would like to see improve an emphasis on teaching our students. Continuing to grow as a research university is great, but when it comes to a decline in the amount students are learning we believe it isn’t benefiting students.
For example, in some classes you have a professor who is breaking grounds in research; however the professor isn’t able to clearly teach students. You then see the grading scales drop; you now only need a 65 percent to receive a “C.” What’s the point of that? If a student is leaving that class with a “C” but only knows 65 percent of the information, how can they succeed after college?
Collegian: Most people would consider you an underdog in the race – has that changed the way you run your campaign?
Bahr & Sled: Being the underdog in the campaign has allowed us to be us. We don’t feel like we need to be “staying ahead of the game.” It has allowed us to have freedom when it comes to how we approach everyday campaigning.
Collegian: You said a big part of your reason to run was to give the frontrunner competition and students choices, why is that necessary?
Bahr & Sled: We believe that if students don’t have the choice of who is leading them, then K-State could get stuck in a stalemate. You may agree with a couple things one candidate is fighting for and disagree with most of the others; if students don’t have a choice, they won’t be as happy as they can be.
Collegian: Why did you decide to run on such unconventional platforms (aka purple, ponds and puppies)?
Bahr & Sled: Platforms are just a way of people figuring out what you want and remembering you. With such a short time to campaign, we knew we had to come out with something that allowed people to remember who we are. “Purple” for the ‘Cats, “puppies” for the therapy and love, (and) “ponds” for beauty of nature and self-reflection.
Collegian: Your platform for running involve ponds, puppies and purple – if you win – what policies would your areas of focus be?
Bahr & Sled: Our policies would focus on what the students want. Every candidate has the issues they want to see change, but without the backing of the students it could be what just a hand few classify as an issue.
Collegian: What is the ‘Zero Dollar Pledge?’
Bahr & Sled: The Zero Dollar Pledge is just our way of saying that we have done this whole campaign without spending anything.
Collegian: How does that translate to the way you aim to function as president and vice president?
Bahr & Sled: We believe that being as financial responsible in our campaign can translate to how we would function as (student body president and vice president). With the rate tuition rising, we believe that it is important to be very careful with how we spend student funds.
Collegian: Do you believe your campaign enhances student lives at K-State? How?
Bahr & Sled: We do believe that our campaign enhances students’ lives. It comes back to the choices. Our campaign allows students to pick what they believe will be best. It also shows students that you can do anything you put your mind to. Never be afraid to take a chance if it is something you believe in.
Collegian: Do you think you have a shot at winning?
Bahr & Sled: First, I want to start with our definition of winning. We started this campaign to really get recognition of SGA and the elections on campus. The last few years there hasn’t really been any competition between the two candidates. We believe that by just raising awareness of our campaign in such a short amount of time we have already won. Everything else from here on out are just extra toppings on the sundae.