Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that only Student Governing Association leadership served on the inaugural Real Estate Student Advisory Board Committee. That is incorrect. While only SGA members served on the committee, not all of them held upper level leadership positions in SGA. The article was updated to reflect this fact at noon on May 1.
During the final Student Governing Association meeting before the body recesses for finals week and summer break, a resolution calling for more student input in KSU Foundation processes failed before the senate.
Natalia Rodriguez, chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and sophomore in business administration, and Cameron Koger, student senator and sophomore in marketing, introduced the resolution following a social media post from the KSU Foundation regarding the plan to build a multimillion dollar housing complex near campus for Kansas State alumni.
Imagine starting your day at home, in the💜of the K-State community and steps away from @KState's front door. This is no #Wildcat fantasy. This is Alumni Village at K-State, your purplest future home, https://t.co/CbL42uxDFJ. #KStateFamily pic.twitter.com/nk23vLp9UR
— KSU Foundation (@KSU_Foundation) April 11, 2020
The Alumni Village project, which has no affiliation with the Alumni Association, was met with mixed reviews from current students and alumni alike.
The inaugural Real Estate Student Advisory Board Committee did approve the progression of the project, but the resolution asked for the committee to expand in size. Currently, only SGA members serve on the committee which does not provide “adequate representation” of the student body, Koger said.
Koger said this isn’t an attack on the foundation or their projects, but a means of asking for better student representation in their process.
Nollan Dillavou, student senator and junior in electrical engineering, debated against the resolution. In his argument, he cited the independent nature of the foundation.
Former student body president and junior in industrial engineering Jansen Penny debated against the resolution as well.
“This kind of bites the hand that feeds us,” Penny said.
Other arguments against the resolution hinged on the fact that it focused heavily on the case of the Alumni Village, which will likely be built regardless of what SGA may or may not say about it.
Some student senators said they would consider voting for future resolutions that recommended more student input in the process, provided they aren’t based on projects that are more or less set in stone.
Alumni who can afford to live in this complex, Penny said, could likely afford to pay for other campus projects or other needs. The minimum price for a unit in the Alumni Village is $499,000. Also, he said, it could nurture other philanthropic avenues with people who used to call K-State home.
“They’re just as much a part of the K-State student as us students,” Penny said.
Some complaints about the Alumni Village is that it requires houses students can currently afford to rent be removed and it diverts funds away from student opportunities.
An early plan for the project’s planned location was a multi-unit student housing option, but a survey turned out by the foundation showed little student demand. Greg Lohrentz, KSU Foundation chief financial officer and senior vice president for operations and finance, said that project was abandoned.
The resolution failed with 15 votes in favor and 21 votes against. Eight student senators abstained from the voting.
Additionally, to cover budget shortfalls in the privilege fee account for the current year, a bill was passed to authorize the movement of money from surpluses in bond accounts supported by the Privilege Fee and the Debt Reduction and Emergency Allocation Account.
Student senate will resume for a special meeting on May 28 where they will review recommendations for budget cuts for all privilege fee entities. The legislation will be special ordered so it can be voted on and debated all in one special meeting.
Before then, student body president and junior in secondary education Tel Wittmer, speaker of the student senate and junior in political science and communication studies Nathan Bothwell and Privilege Fee Committee chair and junior in finance Madison Brown will review the financial impact statements submitted by privilege fee entity directors. From there, the Privilege Fee Committee will receive the recommendations from the leadership for which entities should receive two to three percent cuts to their allocations for the 2020-2021 academic year and decide whether or not to sign off on them. The next phase will be student senate voting on the legislation.
All fees and tuitions decisions are subject to the approval of the Kansas Board of Regents.