On Thursday night, after two votes and two hours of discussion, student senate reduced the minimum requirements to serve as a student senator from 12 credit hours — full-time status — to enrollment in at least one credit hour at Kansas State.
Exceptions could be made before, as earlier this year a student senator was elected into office with only nine credit hours and had to go through a hearing to get approved, Nathan Bothwell, speaker of student senate and senior in political science and communication studies, said.
Bothwell said if a student in one credit hour wishes to run for student senate, they should be allowed to do so, and that the senators represent all students, not just full-time students.
“‘No taxation without representation,'” Bothwell said, and many other student senators echoed his statement.
“I think the main thing to get out of this is equity,” Marta Richenburg, senator and sophomore in history and political science, said. “You know, we passed a resolution a week or two ago holding the administration accountable for not being equitable or inclusive, so, as student senators, we have to do the same for our association.”
After the initial vote on the credit hour requirement failed, senate members raised concerns that, rather than increasing equity, the change would lower the standards expected of student senators.
“I feel like a student who is doing those 12 credit hours, is full time, understands the needs of K-State students,” Ashley Grills, junior in management, said. “I would hate for someone in six credit hours, only two classes, to be serving on the privilege fee committee and making large decisions with the committee for allocating $16.4 million. I feel like that just doesn’t sit well with me, and I’d rather have someone who’s involved and really has their hand in campus, and 12 credit hours really shows that to me on a different level.”
“I don’t want to talk about it in terms of what I think, I want to talk about it in terms I can prove,” Billy Croslow, senator in the Senate Operations Committee and graduate student in history, said.
Croslow said that last year, a team from SGA surveyed his class — of mostly full-time students — to assess why students have a high degree of apathy towards student elections.
“Most of [my students] had no idea what SGA did, how its elections were run or how it spoke for them,” Croslow said. “So, folks, the idea that full-time status somehow imparts caring or more interest in your local community is patently false. … Full-time status doesn’t make someone a better student, or more caring, or anything along those lines. We shouldn’t be in the business of turning anyone away. We should be in the business of bringing them in.”
“By making our space more equitable, more open and more forgiving, we’ve gotten far more people, far more average involvement,” Bothwell said. “There has never been a time when we’ve gone for equitability that has worked poorly or against SGA’s favor. Every time we have worked to expand equitability, it has only worked out for the best in the end.”
On the second vote, the amendment passed 48-0-3 in favor of the changes.
In other action, student senate passed a clarification regarding the diversity programming committee’s regulations. This will allow organizations to more easily submit requests for funding and understand what they can request funding for.
This will also allow organizations — particularly multicultural student organizations — to request funding for food, Maggie Billman, speaker pro tempore and junior in secondary education, said.
“My intention is not to allow food to be funded in order for, you know, some random club to buy 500 pizzas to recruit everyone to come,” Billman said. “My goal for this is for organizations to have the opportunity to have food at events, so that students who know nothing about a specific culture or group of people or anything like that, can come sit down around a dish and have meaningful conversations about what it means to be different from one another to embrace our differences and celebrate our cultures.”
In addition, student senate approved allocations of $2,500, $65,470 and $1,500 respectively to the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students, Sports Clubs Funds and Called to Greatness.
Student senate will reconvene at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 1, in a hybridized format. Members of SGA can meet in Wildcat Chamber in the Union, while others can join via Zoom. Students interested in attending future meetings can email Bothwell at firstname.lastname@example.org.