Published April 9, 2018
Student Senate coalitions are entering the final days of campaigning. In the past few months, they released campaign platforms that will guide their administration’s work, if elected. However, in order to make an informed vote, students not only need to know what the coalitions stand for, but also if they can make change if elected.
The candidates have already met with some of the entities that could help make their platforms a reality. Donna Hultine, director of Parking and Transit, said her department has met with each of the coalitions to discuss their related platforms.
“I usually read about platforms in the paper and have never met any of the candidates, so I’m grateful for all of these coalitions reaching out … to discuss whether it’s feasible or not,” Hultine said.
Noah Ries, Crimson and Blue’s presidential candidate, said he envisions this platform taking form as a part-time position, with the help of the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity. The student-parent advisor would be the point person for those navigating University life with kids.
Ries said they would work with Hawks with Hawklets and has spoken with Melissa O’Neal, the president of the student-parents group.
Kathy Rose-Mockry, the director of the Emily Taylor Center, said O’Neal first brought this idea to the center, and Rose-Mockry said she would be excited to back something like this.
Rose-Mockry said there would need to be further conversations on how to create the position. However, Ries is confident the program could receive funding.
“When there’s a need, the money follows it,” Ries said.
GTA safety training
Crimson and Blue has proposed working with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center and Counseling and Psychological Services to create additional training for graduate teaching assistants. These trainings would focus on “sexual misconduct and response trainings” and a two- to three-hour mental health and trauma recognition training “so that GTAs are equipped with the skills and knowledge to help students who face these issues,” Campaign Manager Martin Doherty said in an email.
Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, the University director for news and media relations, said in an email that GTAs currently undergo mandatory training focusing on “KU policies and procedures related to teaching, professional expectations and academic integrity.”
This platform encourages students to donate books so others can have access to them when needed, expanding on a pre-existing TRIO program. There isn’t a set location, but Ries said, if elected, the group would explore options with KU Libraries.
“Textbook costs are rising, and we want to do something about that,” Ries said.
Christy McWard, the libraries’ director of communications and advancement, said, though she is unsure if there’s enough space, KU Libraries would be open to a conversation about housing the textbooks.
Much of what Crimson and Blue has proposed is either already in effect or being discussed by KU Parking and Transit.
In its original Facebook platform release, Crimson and Blue proposed adding a 43 bus to the transit routes, which would lessen wait times, Zachary Kelsay, the student transportation coordinator, said in an email with the Kansan.
However, he said, operational costs would likely involve an increase in student fees in the coming fiscal year.
“If Crimson and Blue is willing and ready to commit to the amount of time and resources necessary, then it is possible, but it will be a lot of work over their potential term for 2018-19,” Kelsay said.
Both Ries and Kelsay said adding it to the schedule would accommodate for high-traffic times of the day, such as when students leave classes in the afternoon.
Kelsay said transit has an extra bus in the morning, but it is considering switching its schedule to the afternoon to accommodate a higher number of classes taking place.
Kelsay said he does not endorse a specific coalition.
The other half of this platform suggests “leniency” ticketing during resident hall move-in week, according to Ries. Hultine said KU Parking already does not ticket in student lots until classes start and would not be able to expand these exceptions to the faculty and staff lots, which she said are clearly labeled.
Douglas Dechairo, director of Watkins Health Services, said Watkins would work with this coalition, if they were to win, on their proposal to expand Watkins’s pop-up clinic services to include testing such as BMI and blood pressure tests, and continuing HIV and STI tests at residence halls.
Dechairo said Watkins and the coalition were really “in sync” when they met about this platform. He said Watkins could use part of the recent fee increase to expand these services.
“The core of what we’re trying to do here is make sure students are, a) learning about Watkins resources and, b) getting some sort of gauge on their health,” Doherty said.
David Mucci, the director of KU Memorial Unions, which KU Dining reports to, and Jason Krone, director of Ambler Student Recreation Center, said they would be open in exploring Crimson and Blue’s proposal to construct a healthy snack bar at the rec. However, they both mentioned obstacles Crimson and Blue may face.
Mucci said when the rec first opened, there was a similar operation in place. However, he said it closed approximately one year later because it did not have a sufficient amount of sales.
Dining would need to survey interest in order to avoid financial loss, according to Mucci.
“The challenge would be if we opened it, how could we be sure there’s enough traffic to pay the labor and food costs related to that situation,” Mucci said.
Additionally, Krone said, the space is no longer accessible. The drain has been covered and walls have been built, enclosing the entirety of what used to be the snack bar. He said if it were to be redone, it would have to move to a new location.
Crimson and Blue has proposed an outside vendor be used to supply the snack bar as to increase revenue for the rec, however, Mucci said in an email that University policy doesn’t allow “external vendors” to operate on campus.
Women in STEMM program
Crimson and Blue once again proposed a partnership with the Emily Taylor Center.
In the fall, the center worked with Jayhawks Breaking Barriers to back a mentoring program for women in the science, technology, engineering, math and medicine fields. The center’s partnership gave the group the institutional support to keep the program going, Rose-Mockry said.
As is, the mentorship program pairs undergraduate and graduate students. The program offers a series of events to “increase understanding” and knowledge of resources, Rose-Mockry said.
She said the program would welcome additional support from Student Senate, as she believes they could provide influence and help spread the word.
Doherty described Crimson and Blue’s vision as similar to the Summer Venture Program in which young women pursuing STEMM education could gather for a weekend event to learn about resources available. When asked if the center would put support behind this expansion, Rose-Mockry said, “We certainly would.”
Ries also expressed his excitement about the prospect of expanding the program.
“I think at the core, what’s really great about it is that it connects like-minded and empowered women who are interested in getting involved in STEMM fields,” Ries said.
Sexual assault reporting reform
Jayhawkers have proposed a two-step plan to sexual assault reporting reform. First, they want to streamline the reporting process by making material more accessible on the web. Through this, they propose including the number for a 24-7 on-call sexual assault nurse examiner, said Anna Buhlinger, the presidential candidate.
“I think that section of the platform might be the hardest to achieve, but I think it’s probably the most important part,” Buhlinger said.
The second part of the plan is to create a system in which all needed resources could be met by a survivor in a single meeting.
In conversations with both Douglas Dechairo, director of Watkins Health Services, and Shane McCreery, director of Institutional Opportunity and Access, it was said that this plan is not feasible and overlooks what the University already provides.
“I think this is where she is unaware of what we are doing,” McCreery said. “I understand the need to not have the survivor tell their story more than once, so we have already built things into our current structure to prevent that.”
If survivors choose to go to IOA, they are given the option before they share their experience to involve law enforcement or other University resources. If they choose to do so, arrangements are made so an officer can be in attendance. Survivors are also provided with information on all their resources at the initial meeting.
“I am not against anything the coalition is recommending,” McCreery said. “There are just some logistical concerns with that, and the whole goal is to give the student the service that they want, and they choose how to move forward.”
To allow for a 24/7 nurse examiner, Jayhawkers would face a lack of resources to make this a reality.
Dechairo said it would take an overhaul of how Watkins is structured to provide staff and finance for after-hour operational costs. He said four to five additional employees would need to be brought on to operate after hours, on top of the cost for security and employees to fill in schedule gaps the next day if others are called in the middle of the night.
He said those who need an exam after hours can find services at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and KU Public Safety can provide transportation if needed.
Neither Dechairo or McCreery said they are opposed to meeting to discuss reform ideas.
Health and wellness
The platform proposes a partnership between CAPS, the rec and Watkins to promote a holistic approach to wellness, Buhlinger said.
Krone said “that whole partnership is kind of a national trend right now, so it would kind of be illogical of us to not think about partnering with those three departments.”
He said the partnership could expand to referrals and programs and this partnership at the University is in its “beginning stages.”
Dechairo said he is also open to discussing the partnership. He said it would “just be an expansion of programs that we already have in existence.” This includes wellness, nutrition and exercise programs.
CAPS did not respond to requests for comment.
The platform also proposes the rec add a nutritionist to its staff for students to meet with about healthy eating habits.
“We are certainly open to the idea and have done something similar in the past,” Krone said in an email.
Additionally, Watkins employs a peer-health educator who works in nutrition and provides nutrition counseling.
To help alleviate sleep deprivation and promote wellness, Buhlinger said, the coalition proposed the creation of designated nap areas in the libraries. However, Christy McWard, director of communications and advancement at the libraries, said the libraries would not repurpose space to accommodate a separate napping area, as all spaces are currently being used. She said existing areas of quiet and comfort can be used as is.
“Students are certainly free to nap and sleep in our libraries,” she said. “We never interfere with sleeping students.”
Discounted carpool permits
Jayhawkers have spoken with Donna Hultine, director of Parking and Transit, about offering discounted carpool permits. Hultine said, “Right now, we have a really clunky carpool offering, and we really don’t get any takers.”
She said she believes there are currently no carpool permits in use.
Hultine said they would be willing to work with Jayhawkers if they win to simplify the process and make it more affordable for each student in the carpool.
Right now the system allows for a minimum of three people and costs $240 per student, but Hultine said she’d be open to discussing lowering that to two people.
“I’d be willing to work to make it more attractive,” Hultine said. “I just think it’s hard to get three people to agree to something like that.”
However, Jayhawkers (and the other two coalitions who have parking initiatives) can go through processes to change parking rules and regulations during their one-year tenure, but the changes would not be implemented until the following August. In this case, if approved by the parking commission and provost next spring, it would not go into effect until the 2019-2020 academic year.
Jayhawkers have proposed a week leading up to finals in which professors are not allowed to assign coursework such as exams or papers.
“A week that really students could recover and catch up on their sleep,” Buhlinger said, “really catch up on their mental health, get some social support from their friends.”
The feasibility of this platform is uncertain, but Director of News and Media Relations Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said any changes to the final examinations schedule would need to be reviewed by the calendar committee and the registrar’s office.
Jayhawkers proposed the implementation of active shooter training at the University and creating a module, similar to the required sexual assault prevention and alcohol education, to provide further education on gun safety to those who conceal and carry.
Deputy Chief James Anguiano said in an email with the Kansan that KU Public Safety would gladly meet with whoever wins the election “to discuss any ideas they may have when it pertains to safety on campus.” However, he didn’t elaborate on what this may look like as a University-wide initiative.
Better game day experience
This platform proposes alcohol sales at athletic events, according to the group’s instagram page.
According to Office of the Chancellor Policy, alcohol can not be sold to individuals with the exception of Lied Center and Murphy Hall artistic and cultural events that the University is notified about well in advance.
Food insecurity/food scholarship
Rise KU plans to work with KU Dining to implement a “food scholarship,” which would allow students who qualify for the program to access subsidized hot meals on campus during the day.
“Since food insecurity is an issue, we think that this one of the most important ways to address it right now,” presidential candidate Zoya Khan said.
Khan said there would need to be an application process through dining that would grant the scholarship based on food security levels. Khan said it would have to be an “ongoing conversation,” as she does not yet know exactly what the requirements would be.
David Mucci, director of KU Memorial Unions, said there have already been discussions around this topic of food insecurity and how Dining may be able to help. He said he had not heard of the role “in terms of a scholarship” rather, “students in need would be identified through some process,” and possibly given a block of meals that could potentially be financed through KU Endowment.
For Endowment to fund this proposal, fundraising requests would need to be vetted through the Office of Student Affairs and the chancellor’s office, according to Rosita Elizalde-McCoy, senior vice president of communications and marketing. If the coalition is approved, she said in an email, Endowment “would be responsive to work on student initiatives.”
Free access to menstrual products
Rise KU proposed supplying free menstrual products across campus to those who need them. Khan said the cost would be the largest obstacle they face in this process.
“The bottom line is, if students need it, we’re going to find a way to get it,” Khan said.
Vince Avila, director of Facilities Services, said machines that provided menstrual products in bathrooms were recently taken out because they “were not being utilized anymore.”
“For years, the dispensers were there in the bathrooms, most of them empty. But nobody ever said anything. But then all of a sudden we start pulling the machines out, and we hear ‘why are we doing that?’” Avila said.
However, if it is something that students want, he would consider installing machines again. He said they would have to be new, since the ones that were removed were outdated, and the products would need to be funded by a source other than Facilities.
If Endowment were to consider providing the funds, Rise KU would need the initiative approved by University administration. Khan and Kim said Rise KU would also explore alternative options such as national grants.
The degree enhancement program aims to add more professional certificates options. Specifically, Khan said the coalition is looking into a coding certificate with the School of Engineering.
A statement from Victor S. Frost, the chair of the electrical engineering and computer science department, sent to the Kansan via email said the department was not currently considering a coding certificate. An inquiry into whether or not the School of Engineering would be receptive to the coalition’s ideas was not returned.
Initially, Khan said, she would speak with the Edwards campus to understand its coding certificate program, and then speak with the School of Engineering.
Khan also suggested certificates in “criminal justice, web design and development, social justice and advocacy, social media marketing and management, project management, and welding.”
Wi-Fi on buses
Rise KU proposed the implementation of Wi-Fi on buses to allow students with long commutes to work on their way to campus, according to campaign manager Justin Kim.
“It’s a substantial amount of time when people can actually work on things,” Kim said in reference to 20 to 30 minute commutes from apartment complexes such as The Legends.
Transportation coordinator Zachary Kelsay supported this platform and said it would be “relatively inexpensive.”
He said the Wi-Fi could be an upgrade to the already installed GPS system used for the My Bus Lawrence app. He said the same company that supports the GPS technology could provide the Wi-Fi package as well.
Rise KU has also spoken with Parking and Transit about this platform, which proposes the addition of a second parking forgiveness test in lieu of a fine.
“It’s difficult enough being a college student and having to pay for expenses like rent, food, textbooks, tuition,” Khan said. “So we want to make sure we’re trying to alleviate some of the other cost of attending University, things that you can’t always control.”
Hultine said this is “something that is feasible” and she said should would work with Rise KU, if elected, to figure out the details.
Hultine doesn’t know how this would affect revenue at this time. However, she said her goal is not to ticket students. She said she would rather them buy a permit and would be happy to explore additional options to educate students on the parking system.
Streamline Senate funding and Senate transparency
These two platforms were proposed as part of Rise KU’s attempt to make Senate more accessible, and to hold Senate accountable to students, according to Khan.
The online student organization funding platform would allow student groups to apply online for things like event and speaker funding through Senate. The current system, Khan said, puts the burden of navigating the funding process disproportionately on the student groups. By allowing the groups to access it online, senators would be required to reach out and initiate the rest of the funding process.
“There is already an online form that we have created that we have presented to the current administration ... and it was never implemented,” Khan said.
To further make Senate more accessible, Rise KU suggests monthly town halls and forums, easily accessible feedback forms, profiles of members and monthly newsletters and updates.
The coalition, if elected, would have to assign this work internally and it would be up to the students to hold them accountable.
“I keep talking about this toxic culture in Student Senate, that executive staff is not open to criticism,” Khan said. “If we’re not open to criticism and we don’t engage in criticism, that means we’re not willing to engage with students.”
Current Senate administration declined to comment on platforms.
Discounted sports tickets
Rise KU has said they will work with Sporting KC, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals to provide discounted tickets to students so they can participate in events in Kansas City.
Khan said this platform is part of their attempt to address retention rates at the University. She said she wants to harbor a “sense of belonging” for students within the Kansas City community.
Students would get a KU-specific promotional code, according to Khan. Khan said her coalition has spoken with Sporting KC and will continue conversations if elected.
In 2016, the Chiefs had a similarly described program for Metropolitan Community College.
The Royals do provide discounted tickets for students already for select games on “Student Night.” Tickets on Student Night are $10 with a student ID.
Universal scholarship application
Rise KU proposed the creation of a universal scholarship application in which scholarships would be accessible in one location, through a single application.
“The University offers a multitude of scholarships and financial resources, but a lot of students don’t know about them because they are hidden under a million tabs on a website,” Khan said.
Kim said, if the scholarship doesn’t fall under categories in the proposed universal application, it should be put in a centralized location. Khan and Kim said they would need to speak with Endowment, Student Housing and other entities that provide scholarships in this process, if elected.
Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of of news and media relations for the University, said in an email that some University departments such as Housing have scholarship applications available at ku.academicworks.com. Additionally, incoming freshman and transfer students can access a single application for scholarships.
Increased CAPS resources
Rise KU most recently released this platform. The coalition plans once again to work with Endowment to eliminate the cost of Counseling and Psychological Services. They also propose available translators and the creation of an online scheduling option.
On their original Instagram post introducing this platform, Rise KU said “there is a need to have another clinical social workers or licensed psychologist.”
CAPS was not responsive to an email for this story but, according to a previous email from CAPS director Michael Maestas, CAPS has hired an additional psychologist starting in September.