Ayres, Baalman: ‘Your Degree. Your Campus. Your Voice.’

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Jack Ayres, junior in chemical engineering, and Olivia Baalman, junior in computer science, stand in front of Anderson Hall in the center of Kansas State Universities' campus on Jan. 27, 2017.

Two and a half years at Kansas State have been filled with more than just their favorite cream cheese pizza, long hours in the library studying for engineering exams — or listening to podcasts — and dreams of spending a day wake-boarding at Tuttle Creek with Willie the Wildcat.

For Jack Ayres, junior in chemical engineering and candidate for student body president, and Olivia Baalman, junior in computer science and candidate for student body vice president, “purple is a commitment.” They said they have been committed to representing students through their two and a half years in student government and are now even more committed to representing students at a greater level as they campaign for student body president and vice president.

“To me, purple is a commitment,” Ayres said. “A commitment to your community, community being K-State students past, present and future, as well as those in Manhattan. When I think of purple, I think ‘do whatever it takes to serve the community in which we are all a part of.’ The reason why K-State is as great as it is today is because of that commitment to purple. It’s students being committed to each other.”

The pair said they know through their prior experience in the Student Governing Association, as well as their interactions with other students on campus, that their platforms will work to fill needs or enhance areas of campus that students would like to see completed.

Commitment to ‘Your Degree’

In their first of three platforms, “Your Degree,” Ayres and Baalman plan to initiate a “Finish in 4” campaign, enhanced teacher transparency standards and improved advising across all of the colleges.

“One of the key components of ‘Your Degree’ is our ‘Finish in 4’ campaign,” Ayres said. “That means we’re providing students the tools and resources they need in order to plan to graduate with a degree in four years.”

They said it is a common misconception that students think taking 12 credit hours a semester will keep them on track to finishing a degree in four years.

“Basically we want to make sure students right out of the gate know what the expectations are to graduate cost efficiently since tuition is rising so much,” Baalman said. “We don’t want them to think of the 12-credit-hour misconception.”

Ayres said the biggest component to making this campaign possible will be improved academic advising technology, the second part of their ‘Your Degree’ platform.

“Right now, we use a largely outdated system,” Ayres said. “The DARS reporting system serves a very good purpose because it’s all about data. However, I have met very little students who know how to read a DARS report or who can read it at ease.”

The team hopes to make DARS reports more interactive with the ability to run “graduation checks,” which would allow students to test different scheduling scenarios to ensure it is efficient for a four-year graduation.

“A big advantage of this is it will make time with advisers more valuable,” Ayres said. “Ninety five percent of my time with my adviser is spent talking about my schedule. Those tasks can be done with the online advising technology, then our conversations can be, ‘How is your prep for your career?’ If advisers had to worry less about degree requirements, they could spend more time trying to improve the student as a whole.”

One other component of “Your Degree” is teacher transparency.

“We want to make some type of standard where teachers would be able to get grades in a week before the final exam,” Baalman said. “On top of that, after final exams, we’d also like professors to actually put what score you got on your final exam and not just post your final grade in KSIS.”

Commitment to ‘Your Campus’

In the team’s second platform, “Your Campus,” they plan to work on an on-campus food pantry, improved transportation on campus, enhancements to the K-State app and a multicultural student center.

“In this platform, we are discussing offerings from K-State in relation to facilities and technology,” Ayres said. “A big component of ‘Your Campus’ is really what we hear students talking a lot about, a need for new and improved facilities, such as a center for underrepresented and nontraditional students on campus. I think it’s important we are committed to the success of all students on campus.”

Ayres said the communication currently is not where it needs to be between university administration and K-State students. He said he wants to hold administration accountable to making this a two-way street where administrators become transparent through a committee that includes students.

“Another aspect of ‘Your Campus’ that we have heard a lot about from students is an on-campus food pantry,” Baalman said. “The first time I was told students who don’t have a full-time job are not eligible to use the Flint Hills Food Pantry was astonishing to me. I think there’s a real need to make sure we are serving our students in any way we can.”

Baalman said they would also like to see a drop-off line at Bill Snyder Family Stadium to make it safer for students on game days.

Also relating to transportation, Ayres said they would like to see a GPS tracking system implemented into the ATA bussing system.

Commitment to ‘Your Voice’

As part of the third platform of their campaign, “Your Voice,” Ayres and Baalman said they would like to improve transparency among student leaders, administrators and students.

“’Your Voice’ is all about increasing ways to increase the power of student voice,” Ayres said. “Olivia and I are committed to making ourselves as transparent as possible. It’s both of our leadership styles and I would like to continue what we have seen as a growing and improving trend recently: trying to make K-State and SGA much more transparent and accessible and easy for students to have their voice heard.”

Ayres and Baalman would also like to see a reporting system through the K-State app where students can report things such as a handrail on campus that is unsafe or a blue light that doesn’t work.

“We’d also like to add an SGA form where students can voice their concerns to us,” Ayres said.

The team said if they are elected they will hold office hours in their SGA office where students can come and speak to them.

“It’s a way of holding us accountable,” Baalman said.

Four candidates filed for the 2017 student body president election. To read the story on Matt Mindrup click here. The Collegian contacted the other two candidates, but did not hear back by 9 p.m. Monday. Stories on them may be published in the future.

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Kaitlyn Alanis
Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!