“Real people, real results” is what Caleb Stout and Jessica Binckley, candidates for 2023 student body president and vice president, respectively, said they’re striving for at Kansas State University.
“We are the real average student,” Binckley, junior in psychology on the pre-med track, said. “We’re involved in a lot of different things and we reach a lot of different areas on campus. We’re real students, and we’re working to create real results.”
Stout and Binckley are currently running unopposed, but Binckley said this will not change their campaign’s message.
“We’re always planning as if we do have competitors because you never know if someone’s going to pop up,” Binckley said. “The bonus of not having competitors is that we’ve really been able to focus on our policy initiatives and some things. We’ve been able to focus on our relationship with our team more than being constantly nervous that we’re running against someone.”
Stout, junior in agricultural economics and global food systems leadership, said his background inspired him to get involved in student government.
“I grew up on a ranch a little over an hour south of Manhattan, and that’s shaped who I am,” Stout said. “When I was in high school I had the opportunity to go out to Washington, D.C. a few times and that really sparked an interest. I saw people advocating to their representatives about issues that really matter to them. It’s something that fascinates me.”
Binckley said she hasn’t always been interested in politics or student government.
“Both of my parents are city government employees, so while I was never very interested in politics before coming to K-State, it’s always been something that was talked about at home,” Binckley said. “When I came to K-State I started in student government because it seemed like the best way to make the greatest impact. At several different points I questioned if it was the right thing for me, but in the past year it’s really hit home that it was the right decision.”
Binckley said she and Stout decided to run together because their differing backgrounds allow them to understand various perspectives.
“We have two pretty different personalities and a lot of different interests outside K-State, so that’s partially what makes us fit together well,” Binckley said. “We don’t really butt heads often … We’re both coming from two different backgrounds and see things two different ways, so that could really work to benefit K-State.”
Emily Howard, junior in professional strategic selling, entrepreneurship and innovation, said she has been friends with Stout and Binckley for two years.
“I met both of them through the Student Alumni Board, which is an organization here on campus,” Howard said. “We are all leaders in different aspects around campus and in greek life, so we’ve continued to form our relationships through that.”
Howard said she’s confident Stout and Binckley are the perfect candidates for student body president and vice president.
“Both Jess and Caleb are willing and eager to serve this university, and I cannot think of a better duo to do that,” Howard said. “K-State would be in the best hands with both of them.”
Howard said Stout and Binckley are not only great candidates, but great people as well.
“Caleb is very personable and a great conversationalist,” Howard said. “He can sit down with anyone and really relate to them. Jess is really great at building relationships from the ground up. She’s not just interested in surface level things, but she really wants to get to know the individual personally.”
Stout said there are three main points he and Binckley want to address if they are elected: opportunity, advocacy and responsibility.
“Opportunity means asking how we can make K-State a place that’s good for not just getting an education and setting you up professionally, but also personally,” Stout said. “Advocacy is the role of the student body president … knowing what’s on the hearts and minds of students and advocating for students at all times. Responsibility, that’s just treating the role with the respect it deserves and showing students the respect they deserve.”
Binckley said they plan to achieve these goals by making sure every student has the opportunities they need to succeed.
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“The biggest thing for me is ensuring that we have opportunities for all the different types of students across K-State, whether that be with career fairs or internship opportunities,” Binckley said. “We’re making sure that we’re bringing in all the different people with all the different majors.”
Binckley said the biggest challenge of running has been the pressure to serve the student body well.
“If we’re elected, we’ve got a year in office,” Binckley said. “When you take out the summer, we don’t have a lot of time to make a lot of the changes we want to see … The pressure is what makes it a challenge, but also what makes it exciting. We both live for it a little bit.”
Binckley said hearing support from students is what encourages her.
Stout said what makes K-State stand out from other schools is its sense of family, and he hopes he can emphasize that if he is elected.
“Kansas State is special in the fact that we talk about how we’re a family, and that takes a lot of trust,” Stout said. “At K-State our administration really backs that up with how they trust students. … Student government is just another dynamic of seeing the K-State family in action.”
Though K-State has a strong sense of family, Stout says we must work hard to keep it that way.
“As soon as you fall into the misconception that K-State has always been a family and always will be … you start to fall away from that,” Stout said. “Denying ourselves and helping those around us, there’s no policy for that. We say we’re a family, so we need to live like it.”