While most Wildcats were working on their tans or spending time learning more about their future careers at internships, a few members of the Student Governing Association were working on improving campus life.
Student body president and senior in industrial engineering Jansen Penny and vice president and senior in chemical engineering Ali Karamali met with university departments and staff members to begin working on some of their goals for the Kansas State community.
Affordability and aid
One of these goals is implementing a more sustainable model for adjusting the Privilege Fee each year as enrollment either decreases or increases.
Penny said students saw a “huge” increase” in the fee this year due to a decrease in enrollment combined with the decision to allocate more money to some entities funded by the fee. The fee increased by $28.50, amounting to $472.50 per semester.
“In my opinion, this is not a sustainable model as a land grant university who strives for affordability of tuition and fees for their students,” Penny said.
Penny said he has meetings planned later this month “to go over possible plans and changes” to the agreements with the campus entities funded by the fee such as the K-State Student Union, Wildcat Watch and Counseling Services.
The plan is to find ways to change the contracts with the entities to keep “the fee low during times of declining enrollment,” Penny said.
Penny and Karamali also started tackling campaign promises such as food insecurity. The Cats’ Cupboard food pantry is one campus entity that SGA is working with to combat this issue.
“We are exploring options of additionally funding Cats’ Cupboard with the goal of getting them into the perishable food business,” Penny said. “This would include updating facilities and possibly the location of [the pantry] to pass health codes. Then there would be a partnership with Housing and Dining in the utilization of their leftover food.”
Penny said the partnership with K-State Housing and Dining is not finalized, but there will be more information within the next month.
Sexual assault prevention
A new sexual violence prevention training for bars in Aggieville is also underway. Cheyanne Brunner, sexual violence prevention and awareness director and sophomore in psychology, is working to create the SafeBar Alliance. SafeBar is a program for bystander intervention training to be done through the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education on campus.
Penny said participating bars will receive a certification to use for their own public relations purposes. The goal of SafeBar training is to make Aggieville a safer place for students late at night and encourage people to intervene in situations that could turn violent.
Penny said SafeBar won’t fully be implemented until spring 2020.
Changes to fall break
A motion to implement a two-day break between Labor Day weekend and Thanksgiving in the official university calendar passed the University Calendar Committee. Penny and Karamali worked on this with several administrators.
Penny said it would give students a “much needed mental wellness break” in the middle of the fall semester.
“This will proceed to faculty senate where there is expected to be a lot of opposition and discussion,” Penny added. “In the end, the final say goes to Provost Taber. This will all have to be finalized by October.”
If passed, the new break won’t be implemented until fall 2020.
Campus bike share and e-scooters
Penny is also working with the Division of Financial Services, the state procurement office and Veo-Ride to bring pay-to-ride bikes to the Manhattan campus.
“This has full support of Green Apple bikes and all stakeholders,” Penny said. “There are currently a list of contingencies that need negotiated in the contract that we are all trying to figure out.”
There has been discussion of bringing e-scooters to campus as well, however, Penny said they have hit a roadblock because of changing state ordinances regarding safety.
Penny said there will be a meeting within a month to finalize a “campus stance” on the use of e-scooters and how they may or may not be implemented on campus.
“The biggest issues include safety, utilizations, compensation from the e-scooter company and contract contingencies,” Penny said.
Penny said he plans to work with Karamali the first few months of the semester to finalize these campus initiatives and take feedback from students on these updates.