MEET THE CANDIDATES: Kulkarni, Billman aim to grow student inclusivity, campus relationship

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Masked up, Vedant Kulkarni (middle left), Maggie Billman (middle right) and their campaign team pose outside Anderson Hall. (Photo courtesy of Aryan Tayal, senior in electronics and computer engineering)

Growth is a common theme in the spring season and that doesn’t change for two Kansas State students’ motivations towards the university’s environment.

Vedant Kulkarni, international affairs director and senior in management information systems and mass communications, and Maggie Billman, speaker pro tempore and sophomore in secondary education, announced they are running for student body president and vice president, respectively.

The duo’s mission is to better the lives of students through student success, financial stability and campus access.

“I believe that K-State’s strength lies in our unity, and together, we can face all challenges and win,” Kulkarni said. “I believe that we can create the foundation to make K-State the most equitable and inclusive campus in the nation.”

With the motto, “Together we grow,” the two have focused their efforts on three main platforms for the betterment of student unity and success.

Student Success

  • Advocate for systemic reform
  • Support mental health services
  • Streamline K-State 8

Financial Stability

  • Provide need-based aid
  • Eliminate out-of-pocket costs
  • Inclusive campus spaces

Campus Access

  • Secure community partnerships
  • Reliable campus routes
  • Inclusive campus spaces

Campaign manager Blake Phillips, junior in management information systems and data analytics, said he supports Kulkarni and Billman because of the passion they share for student equality.

“College should be affordable and accessible to all students,” Phillips said. “We can do so much more to help out [the] student body, and Vedant and Maggie are the best to make change happen.”

Natalie Moyer, junior in marketing, said she believes their campaign is about so much more than filling a few seats in SGA.

“This campaign is about equity, holding our university accountable and creating a space for all — truly and with genuine care and intention,” Moyer said. “I also think Kulkarni and Billman are some of the most caring, empathetic, influential and inspiring individuals and the most amazing leaders. It’s like this running was their calling.”

Durga Jambunathan, junior in psychology, said she plans to vote for the duo because they advocate for underserved and underrepresented students.

“They are two empathetic and resilient leaders who have a vision for a more inclusive K-State family,” Jambunathan said.

Coming to campus freshman year, Kulkarni didn’t know international students could be a part of student government and thought it was exclusive to U.S citizens.

Since then, he held many positions at K-State including student senator and committee chair in student senate, along with other positions across different organizations on campus, including serving as a director, president, vice-president and treasurer of various committees and ISOs.

“In all these positions, I have interacted with people of all communities on campus — people of all walks of life,” Kulkarni said. “I have seen their problems, I have gone through some tough challenges myself when it comes to mental health, financial insecurity, food insecurity and recently also suffering from COVID-19, which canceled my plans to visit my family.”

Billman said being speaker pro tempore resembles the vice president of the legislative branch of SGA.

“A lot of the duties and responsibilities line up pretty much hand-in-hand as far as experience goes,” Billman said.

Some issues the pair would take action on right away include the income sharing program and ridding costly educational resources like TopHat and Wiley Plus.

“It hurts to put that credit card number in and pay,” Kulkarni said. “Having to pay these additional fees is frustrating for a lot of students.”

Billman said their efforts for a more unified campus cannot go unnoticed without the help of the campaign team.

“We have a team of the most incredible, giving, confident people that I have ever met,” Billman said. “I am moved to almost tears every day thinking about all the people behind this [campaign].”

“We love everyone on campus and we would work our butts off to ensure that our campus is made better because together we grow — that’s our motto,” Kulkarni said. “We want to make sure that we preserve that unity, we continue to promote inclusivity and in that unity, all of us grow and make K-State the best campus in the nation.”

More information about Kulkarni and Billman can be found on the campaign website.

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My name is Sean Schaper, and I'm the news editor for the Collegian. I’m a junior in journalism with a secondary focus in film studies. I grew up right outside of Kansas City in Leawood, Kansas. As a first-generation K-Stater, I look forward to leaving behind accurate coverage for the current and future Wildcat community.