They had barely met on Saturday, but they are ready to capitalize on their business minds and the power of running for student body president and vice president as the only all-girl team who filed in the Kansas State student presidential elections.
Sarah McDermott, senior in entrepreneurship, filed on the last possible day for student body president without knowing who her running mate would be. Candidates do not have to officially declare a vice president candidate until after the primary race on Feb. 14 and 15.
“I declared to run on the last day (to file) and I wasn’t sure how I was going to see it through, but I got some encouragement from other people, so I was sold on doing it,” McDermott said. “Then, I was at a girls Bible study and one of the girls named Hope, who is actually normally pretty quiet, told me she knew someone who would be perfect to run with.”
McDermott said she then texted Mary Abounabhan, junior in management, and they met on Saturday and “just clicked” after talking for two hours about the campaign.
Student body president compensated $11,136
“It’s interesting how it all happened,” McDermott said. “And I know we’re kind of late getting it all together, but I think it’s more of a testimony to how passionate we are.”
Non-traditional paths to purple
Outside of both being women in business who want to better K-State, McDermott and Abounabhan both did not always know K-State would be in their future.
McDermott is a transfer student who first went to a community college and the University of Kansas before “finding the light” and transferring to K-State. Since then, she said she is proud to be a part of family that means so much.
“I went to a junior college, where it was much smaller, and then I went to KU where it was a little bit bigger than here, and you just don’t find that family concept being pushed your direction like you do here,” McDermott said. “Purple is an unpopular color, but once you come here I think it means family.”
As for Abounabhan, she spent 18 years of her life living in Lebanon. However, she said her mom was from America and her grandpa went to K-State.
“I still grew up learning the fight song,” Abounabhan said. “It showed me that purple was loyalty, purple was dedication, purple was an identity. We are purple and I joke because my middle name is Violette so I was meant to come here.”
Here to make a change
Now that they are proud members of the K-State family, McDermott and Abounabhan said they are excited for the opportunity to make an impact at K-State, even without prior experience in student government.
“I think a huge (advantage) is we are not part of SGA,” Abounabhan said. “We are a fresh perspective here to be heard. Sometimes a lot of people are intimidated because they’re like, ‘Oh, we haven’t been a part of SGA since our freshmen year,’ but here we are proving to people that it’s never to late.”
Student Senate is 75 percent greek
McDermott said she is also the only presidential candidate who is not affiliated with a greek organization, which provides another opportunity to represent other groups of students.
McDermott and Abounabhan said if they are elected they hope to maximize their impact into three main platforms: transparency, diversity and empowerment.
“We believe that students not only have a right to know exactly what they are getting from Kansas State University, but have information that is readily available and easy to understand,” McDermott said.
To make this possible, they plan to provide financial breakdowns to each student so students know exactly what their money goes to class by class.
They also want information better organized on KSIS, including class syllabi posted before enrolling in classes and a K-State version of “Rate my Professor,” where students could read and discover which professor would be the best fit for them.
“We believe Kansas State University is a family,” Abounabhan said. “One that includes people from all backgrounds and walks of life. We are aiming to restore the family unit at K-State by getting everyone involved and their voices heard.”
Abounabhan said they plan to do this by offering diversity-incentivized programs, workshops for students to learn how to better utilize services offered by the Student Governing Association and better resources for diversity-based organizations.
SGA reaffirms diversity
“One thing I want to note is cultural diversity does not mean only minorities,” McDermott said. “Diversity is not exclusive. It means white, black and everyone all together. Diversity doesn’t only include people from other countries or minorities. It’s white people, too. They’re part of the conversation and we would like to restore all of it back together.”
“We believe that students should be able to create their own academic successes and experiences,” McDermott said. “This means understanding that you are the consumer and your needs should therefore come first. We want you to know that you have the ability to take charge of your education.”
To make this possible, the team would like to see a streamlined process of K-State Communications that are sent to students, such as K-State Today. Currently, they said K-State Today sends information about events to students the day of, which does not give students enough time to plan for events they may like to attend.
They would also like to make more internship and community service opportunities possible for students.
“We can make this change without requiring extra resources,” McDermott said. “We have all the capital we need, but we are underutilizing our human capital.”
Three candidates are running in the 2017 student body president election. The two other candidates are Jack Ayres and Matt Mindrup.