The Student Governing Association at Kansas State University met in the Wildcat Chamber at its usual time Thursday evening and elected Hannah Heatherman, junior in finance, as the speaker of the student senate for the new SGA term. The position of speaker pro tempore was elected immediately afterward.
Speaker of the student senate debate
The candidates for speaker of the student senate were Vedant Kulkarni, sophomore in business administration, Lily Colburn, freshman in political science, and Heatherman.
Kulkarni spoke on engaging and empowering the student body.
“Your voice is the most important,” Kulkarni said. “I would have the privilege of representing you to campus. University and state leaders should hear the voice of student senators. I am aware all of you have individual goals.”
Kulkarni also emphasized that he will focus on creating diversity within SGA.
“We still have issues that need to be addressed in SGA,” Kulkarni said. “As an international student, I see that we lack diverse voices in SGA. People in my community have told me that my chances are very slim, not because I am incapable, but because of factors outside of my control.”
Heatherman said she will “activate” student senate as speaker, be deliberate when selecting committee members and work to make sure governing documents reflect what is being done within the governing body.
“Most of the work I have done this past year has been independent of a position, but it has made me realize that I want to become more involved,” Heatherman said. “It is rooted in these experiences I have had as a senator. I personally have derived so much value as a member of SGA. I have also seen that there are problems we need to address. I believe I am the best person to lead us into that reality.”
Finally, Colburn’s platforms focused on keeping SGA members connected and up-to-date.
Colburn said she plans to create a Canvas page to further engage the student senate and keep senators up to date. In addition, she wants to have regular discussions among SGA members, have facilitator training sessions, include caucus leaders in executive meetings and create a joint committee on elections.
“Facilitator training is important to make sure they have the tools to efficiently run a meeting,” Colburn said. “After this past term, we need a joint committee on elections; not one person or branch has an answer to these problems.”
Colburn emphasized her dedication to student senate and her passion for change. When asked how she deals with conflict, Colburn said she enjoys getting to know different perspectives so she can know why people believe the way they do.
“You should have a speaker who will be there for you,” Colburn said. “I want to keep my door open for you metaphorically and physically so anyone can come speak to me about their passions and goals.”
After speeches were given by the candidates, the student senate was able to debate on each candidate. Vedant received no debate while Heatherman and Colburn were each debated five times.
Sarah Niederee, senior in agricultural economics, favorably compared Heatherman to a worm.
“Worms break down food and provide nutrients for plants so they can grow,” Niederee said, “secretly working behind the scenes to make things work without thanks.”
Shelby Carpenter, senior in elementary education, also supported Heatherman and said she has “intentional dedication.”
Tel Wittmer, sophomore in education, Andrew Booze, freshman in computer science, and Madison Brown, junior in finance, also debated in favor of Heatherman.
Colburn received support from people who said they have known her well, whether for many years or only through the last term.
“I have known Lily for about five years now,” said Creighton Glasscock, freshman in computer science and mathematics. “She constantly works to improve her own work as well as others.”
Corbin Sedlacek, senior in accounting and management, also said he has known Colburn for several years. He said he attempted to talk her out of running for speaker, but she couldn’t be deterred.
“I firmly believe Lily belongs in this place,” Sedlacek said. “After multiple conversations with her, she is set on this.”
Noah Ochsner, freshman in agricultural communications and journalism, Mohammed Al Abdullah, senior in industrial engineering, and Hayley Spellman, senior in political science and communication studies, all said Colburn’s positive attitude would take her far in this position.
After the debate, the student senate elected Heatherman to the position of speaker; she received 31 votes.
Speaker pro tempore
Following the election of Heatherman, Nathan Bothwell, sophomore in political science and communication studies, and Mathew Orzechowski, senior in industrial engineering and political science, were nominated for speaker pro tempore.
Bothwell said he plans to reinvigorate the position of speaker pro tempore in senate. His platforms are orientation, outreach, opportunity, organization and an open door policy.
Bothwell cites his work as intern coordinator as an advantage in this position.
Orzechowski focused on why he was in the student senate to begin with and the benefits of having multiple perspectives in SGA. He cited his experience in the legislative branch as a benefit to being speaker pro tempore.
For goals, Orzechowski said he plans to be the best second-in-command he is capable of being, reinvigorate the college caucus system, form better relationships with college councils and make the diversity programming committee better.
Receiving 36 votes, Bothwell was elected speaker pro tempore.