When Hannah Heatherman, junior in finance and organizational management, first came to Kansas State, she hadn’t planned on being involved with Student Governing Association.
Two years later, she’s the speaker of the student senate and is running for student body president.
She got involved with SGA her sophomore year as a student senator for the College of Business. As someone who hadn’t been involved with SGA from the start, Heatherman says she has a unique perspective: she knows what it’s like to be outside SGA, but also has the experience necessary to be student body president after taking on upper-leadership positions within the organization.
“The reason that I’m running for student body president is really similar to the reason I ran for student senate two years ago,” Heatherman said. “I wanted to be sure that any student on the K-State campus that didn’t understand the resources … felt empowered to learn what SGA did and also felt like they could be changemakers on campus.”
Heatherman said it didn’t sink in that she wanted to run for student body president until late last summer when she attended a Board of Regents meeting with current student body president Jansen Penny, senior in industrial engineering.
“I got to see him help present our tuition proposal and that’s the first time it ever really set in for me how vital it is that we have a person who understands not only the student experience but everything that happens behind the scenes and administratively too,” Heatherman said.
As far as her campaign goes, Heatherman said she is focusing on three main aspects of student life. The first one is affordability.
“Some things that we hope to accomplish includes putting into place stricter restrictions on the use of expensive educational platforms like TopHat, McGraw Hill Connect, Wiley Plus,” Heatherman said. “All of us students know too that they aren’t the best way of teaching … I really want to cut back on the usage of stuff like that during my term.”
Heatherman said she’d also like to work on setting up a program that would allow students to charge textbook and classroom material expenses to their KSIS account, like a tuition bill. That way, they can use scholarship dollars on it immediately or deal with the bill overtime in the hopes that it could prevent students from missing rent payments or skipping meals at the start of the semester to make up for personal budget shortfalls that might occur from purchasing expensive materials.
Another big cornerstone of her campaign is promoting mental health and wellness.
“Mental health is as prevalent of an issue as ever, and it isn’t a trend that’s going to stop overnight,” Heatherman said. “While I think that K-State has really great individual resources, the network of how they work together and refer into one another isn’t as strong as it could be.”
Heatherman said a first step in dealing with mental health on campus is better training for academic advisers. If they can spot the warning signs of a student struggling with mental health, they would be able to refer that student to Counseling Services sooner.
These two areas combined lead into her final campaign initiative: improving the overall campus experience at K-State.
“I think that I’m the best candidate to be student body president because of my experience, ideas and commitment to the job,” Heatherman said. “Ever since I became a part of SGA, what’s made college easier for me is making college easier for other people. It’s been proven that people who are excited to show up for work work better, they work harder, they work longer, and I’ve spent countless hours on this organization.”
It’s her commitment, she says, that sets her apart from the other candidates in the race.
“I’m the person who’s willing, who’s committed, who’s passionate about staying late and working for students every day, because, for me, it doesn’t feel like work. I think that’s really unique amongst the candidates,” Heatherman said.
Voting in the student body presidential primary is on Tuesday and Wednesday. From there, the two candidates with the highest percentage of student votes will go head to head in the general election.