Origins of student body president requirements unknown by current SGA leadership

Student Governing Association leadership members have offices within the Center for Student Involvement. (File photo by Jordan Koster | Collegian Media Group)

Just as the President of the United States must meet certain requirements, so does the Kansas State Student Body President. For K-State, those requirements include maintaining at least seven credit hours during both semesters of their term.

However, current SGA leadership expressed they don’t know where the seven credit hour requirement comes from. Several of them didn’t know that was the requirement.

The Student Governing Association constitution states, “The Student Body President and Student Body Vice President shall be required to maintain seven hours undergraduate credit or six hours graduate credit during the fall and spring semesters to be eligible to remain in office.”

“I’m not entirely sure … what exactly the history is behind it,” Tel Wittmer, student body president and senior in secondary education, said.

However, former vice president for student life and dean of students Pat Bosco said the rule originated in the ’90s.

“My recollection is there was a period of time where students wanted to increase the pool of eligible students to run for Student Senate and their Student Body President,” Bosco said.

To increase the pool of candidates, the credit hour requirements were lowered to seven credits so the student body president would pay full-time privilege fee rates but be able to dedicate more time to the position by taking fewer classes.

Fran Willbrant, assistant vice president of the Division of Financial Services, said at that time, there were only two rates for the privilege fee: a part-time rate for students taking six or fewer credits, and a full-time rate for students taking seven or more. Currently, students taking less than six credits on campus pay a rate based on their credit hour amount. Students taking six or more credits pay the full privilege fee.

“Typically a student body president will reduce his or her hours during his or her term,” Bosco said.

Currently, Wittmer is enrolled in 14 credit hours. Former student body president and senior in industrial engineering Jansen Penny said he also maintained the federal full-time status of 12 credit hours during his term.

Leadership and classes

Last April, Penny told the Collegian a student body president only needs to take nine credit hours to be considered a full-time student. However, Penny recently said a three-credit-hour independent study class would be added to their schedule in addition to the nine credits, bringing them to full-time status.

As the SGA constitution states, the student body president only needs to take seven credits to run for office and maintain their position. However, twelve hours would still be needed to maintain full-time status.

Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students, now instructs the independent study class.

“The purpose of the course is … to develop and refine leadership skills when executing a leadership role in student government,” Lane said. “The course is intended to enhance the student leaders understanding of leadership styles and techniques.”

The Staley School of Leadership Studies offers LEAD502 as an independent study course students can take several times. Penny did not take the course and neither is Wittmer.

Nathan Bothwell, speaker for student senate and senior in political science and communication studies, is currently taking the class.

Bothwell said he is taking the class to maintain his full-time status. He originally planned to study abroad over the summer, which would put him ahead of schedule for graduation.

The study abroad trip fell through, but Bothwell still needed credits to maintain full-time status.

“I would have needed 12 credit hours in the fall and then like six credit hours in the spring then so that would have put me like super ahead of schedule,” Bothwell said. “I was kind of like ‘I didn’t really want to graduate just a semester early.'”

In the class, Bothwell said he will develop his leadership skills in two specific areas: conflict resolution and motivating organization members.

Bothwell meets with Lane weekly and will read research articles, write reflection papers and put what he learns to work in SGA.

“I actually really like this idea that like, I’m not just going to get the practice and experience but also actually have like the academic research backing up [the experience], which I think is really cool,” Bothwell said.

While this class is currently limited to SGA leadership, Lane said he is curious to see if this opportunity can be opened to other organizations on campus.

Bailey Britton
My name is Bailey Britton and I am the editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I have been the assistant news editor and the managing editor. I have also interned for the Manhattan Mercury and the Colby Free Press. I grew up in Colby, Kansas, and I am a junior in journalism and English. Through the Collegian, I aim to provide the K-State community with quality news coverage while we learn to serve our campus.