Reviewing representation

Kelly Pickerel

Three USS senators discuss what they have, and haven’t, accomplished this semester

Editor’s Note:

In the final part of a three-day series, the Stater examines the Undergraduate Student Senators you elected last semester. As USS prepares to restructure student government at Kent State, here’s a look at how those elected have carried through with their campaign platform goals, which they presented last spring.

Katie Hale

Executive Director

During Katie Hale’s run for executive director last spring, letters came pouring in to the Stater editor and Facebook groups blasted Hale’s qualifications for the top spot. She spent the next month trying to dig out of the hole she was buried in and show Kent State she was the right person for the job.

By a margin of 179 votes, Hale won the position and set out to prove everyone wrong.

Of her seven original platform goals, five have been completed, one is in progress and one has been put on hold. She’s also picked up other outside jobs as well as tackled the big task of defining the new Undergraduate Student Government, set to take off next fall.

The first completed goal of getting the Student Center open later has been a frustrating process, Hale said.

“I’m very happy that it’s up and running,” she said, “but I’m frustrated with the obstacles that we have. The fact that the university was so willing to give this a shot and supported the students is very encouraging, and it means a lot.”

Hale said she didn’t intend to have concerts and events happening at the Student Center every weekend.

“I intended it to be an alternative area to study besides the library,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a happening place to party, but it has to be open and utilized.”

Hale said getting students to the building at night is something that needs time to gain strength.

“I don’t think anyone should give up on it,” she said. “We put the shovel in the dirt, and we’re going to have to keep digging and digging until we can build it up to be successful.”

Hale’s second completed goal of downtown bussing on the weekends has improved and students are taking advantage of it, she said.

“PARTA has been wonderful,” she said. “They say it’s going good. Again, they said to let it catch on a little bit, but make sure people know about it.”

As for strengthening tailgating at football and basketball games, Hale said it’s going well.

“We plan on tailgating in the Rathskeller before basketball games,” she said. “A lot of the same concepts we do in Tailgate Alley will be reflected on in the Rathskeller. We want the same atmosphere, excitement, giveaways and discounts.”

Hale’s next goal, offering Web design to student organizations, was a little more work than she bargained for, but progress has been made.

“Originally, I was probably a little na’ve,” she said.

Hale expected to hire individuals to help design Web sites for organizations. It wasn’t until an adviser sat her down and said it was a little more complicated that Hale reached out for help.

“It’s hours and hours of work, and with 2,200 student organizations coming to this (one single) person, it will never get done,” she said.

So, Hale said she worked with the Center for Student Involvement and put together a Powerpoint presentation on how student organizations can build a Web site.

“It’s a very primary Web site,” Hale said of the organizations’ finished product, “but it gets the information out there.”

Bringing Pick-a-Prof to Kent State, originally one of Hale’s goals, was actually passed off to another senator who better fit the job.

Kali Price, senator for academic affairs, helped bring the application to the university, and Hale said she’s doing a great job with it.

The final two goals are those that have yet to be completed.

Hale said she hopes suggestion boxes will be in place next semester.

“This was another instance where you think it’s going to be easy, and it’s just problem after problem,” she said.

When they are implemented, she said she hopes students take advantage of them and sends senate their complaints, their encouragements, their ideas or anything they want to say.

Finally, Hale said work on her last goal has been put on hold.

Representatives from Main Street Kent, a non-profit agency focusing on revitalizing downtown Kent, have not gotten back to Hale after she contacted them.

“I was interested in exploring the options of having a new business downtown that would appeal to students,” she said. “I wanted to pursue something, but I wasn’t really getting any reception back, so I’m kind of stuck.”

Since the majority of her platform goals are completed and out of the way, Hale has spent the rest of her time preparing guidelines for the new Undergraduate Student Government. Bylaws for the new senators and directors are scheduled to be voted on the second week of the spring semester.

Working with USG will take up most of the senators’ time next semester, Hale said.

“Of course, there’s some things that need worked on,” she said, “but I’d like to see (the senators) sane, have good grades and enjoy their last semesters in college.”

Megan Lynn

Senator for student advancement

Megan Lynn took the Daily Kent Stater editorial board’s April 10

comments to heart.

After Lynn, senator for student advancement of the Undergraduate Student Senate, was elected last spring, the Stater reviewed her platform goals and stated she was “going to have to break away from tradition to make this position work . Lynn is the senator for student advancement, and advance is just what she will need to do.”

“I’ve branched out from my platform goals,” Lynn said. “The first review in the Stater during elections (said) that I need to come up with different platform goals (because) they weren’t really substantial, so I’ve taken the advice.”

Lynn’s original goals of expanding the university’s knowledge of Mobile Campus, working with the Student Input Advisory Committee and reinstating the Student Leadership Development Board are still in the works, though she has picked up extra tasks elsewhere, such as work with recycling on campus and tailgating before sporting events.

As for Mobile Campus, a text-messaging service connecting Kent State students and staff with local businesses, Lynn said she’s trying to expand its outreach.

“Last semester, we passed a resolution to have the administration use Mobile Campus as a form of emergency alert,” she said, “but they took Flash Alerts instead.”

Lynn wants the service more university recognized and used by more student organizations. She said she hopes to plan an event next semester to gain more attention and possibly override the number of people signed up for Flash Alerts, the current university text-messaging alert system.

Lynn said she has been working to get the Student Leadership Development Board back on track. The board defines leadership and figures out what students need to help them become a good leader.

“It’s not really come to what my goal is yet, but it’s in the process,” she said. “(In the past) it’s been nonexistent. Hopefully, it will become better than it was.”

Work on the Student Input Advisory Committee has been put on hold until the USS Street Team is in order.

The committee generally meets with different people on campus to obtain opinions and information to provide better communication between groups, Lynn said.

The Street Team can help Lynn poll students to find out what changes they would like to see on campus.

Lynn’s extra goals are what she’s most concentrating on now.

When USS showed a concern with campus recycling, the university granted Campus Environment and Operations a graduate assistant position dedicated to the issue.

Lynn has worked on a proposal for a program the graduate assistant could follow. She said she presented research on a program already implemented at Penn State.

“Trash to Treasure” is an annual type of garage sale, selling trashed items from residence halls.

“When students move out, there’s (a lot) of usable items people throw out, like futons and lamps,” Lynn said. “(Trash to Treasure) is like a garage sale, but it goes to charity. It’s turning one person’s trash into somebody else’s treasure.”

Lynn said the program is just an idea right now, and nothing has been approved.

Besides the proposal, Lynn has also helped Executive Director Katie Hale with the planning of tailgating events before basketball games.

She has also been juggling the task of writing bylaws for the new Undergraduate Student Government.

“USG has taken up a significant amount of time,” she said. “Hopefully, in the long run it will be worthwhile. I think it will provide the next senators with more opportunities.”

Once bylaws have been ironed out, Lynn said she will continue working on better ways to advance students within the Kent State community.

Elizabeth Eckels

Senator for student relations

Elizabeth Eckels, senator for student relations, keeps her goals in sight.

The platform goals she established while running for the Undergraduate Student Senate spot last spring are displayed on the bulletin board above her desk. She gradually chips away at them every day.

Although the goals have been tweaked, the general focus has stayed the same. Eckels said she’s working on six projects: develop a representative panel from each college, schedule Meet the Deans events, showcase positive outcomes from interactions between faculty and students, inform student organizations about USS events, attend student organization meetings and develop a virtual message board for organization presidents.

Most of the goals have changed in one form or another, but Eckels said she’s still working hard to reach a successful outcome.

The goal of developing a representative panel from each college transformed into a student leader lunch, something that doesn’t need as much of her time.

In contrast, Meet the Deans Week kicked off this week and has been a time-consuming project.

“Seven colleges participated, and it has proven so far to be successful,” Eckels said.

Originally planned to be once a month, Eckels found developing the proposal and talking to the deans took more time than she had planned and changed the week to once a semester.

“I found it pretty tough being (the) one person talking to eight colleges,” she said. “It was a lot more work than I anticipated.”

Her original goal was to continue Coffee with the President programs, but she said she realized meeting with deans would be better for students.

“Talking to the president about student issues isn’t always relevant,” she said. “Deans can have much more impact on student issues, concerns and questions.”

A new program tentatively titled “Campaign Interaction” is Eckels’ latest project.

“I firmly believe it’s important for students to have interaction with administration,” she said. “Developing that relationship allows a student to have a better experience here, and that’s what I want for every student.”

The campaign will feature student stories expressing the benefits of forming a relationship with a member of the Kent State faculty. The campaign will debut early next semester.

As for communicating with student organizations about USS events, Eckels said she isn’t very pleased with the outcome.

After sending out a student organization newsletter in October, she said she was discouraged at the lack of attention it received.

“I called a couple different student organization presidents (after it was distributed),” she said. “None of them read it. I spent a lot of time working on it. I figured it’d be something pretty cool, but there was no response.”

Eckels decided the best plan was to switch the newsletter over to a weekly e-mail, containing important information about what each senator is doing and how the organizations can benefit.

“I can’t force it,” she said. “We provide the information and the opportunity. It’s up to each organization to read it.”

Eckels has had trouble completing her next goal, attending organization meetings, because of her busy schedule.

“I haven’t really done this much,” she said, “and it has a lot to do with me being very busy with outside stuff. It’s a terrible excuse.”

A commuter student who works off campus, Eckels said evening meetings aren’t cohesive with her schedule. It’s something she plans to work on.

Building a virtual message board has also proved to be difficult.

The senate’s own Web site has been down since the beginning of the semester, making it complicated for Eckels to begin work on a message board.

“Our server is being transferred over to the library, and it’s taking longer than necessary,” she said. “But next semester, regardless of whether or not our Web site is up, I will develop it for USG to use.”

The Undergraduate Student Government is something Eckels and all the senators have been spending a lot of time on.

“We’re really unique and privileged, and some may say burdened, but I look at it more as a huge opportunity for us,” she said of the senators’ duty to write bylaws for the new government. “We’ve had to play two rules: serve our current positions and prepare and be very concerned about what’s going to be happening with the changes (next year).”

Contact student politics reporter Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].