USS senators review campaign promises

Kali Price

Overall, Undergraduate Student Senate has met many of its goals so far and even added several more projects to its agenda.

“I feel like everyone is pulling their weight,” USS Executive Director Ross Miltner said.

Some of the senators have achieved their platform goals, which ranged from connecting the city of Kent to the campus to finding new ways to reach students for polls and surveys.

Some of the senators’ goals have changed, some goals were abandoned. One felt he didn’t have a much of a platform at all.

During the next two days, the Daily Kent Stater will examine each of the senator’s platform goals, as well as his or her achievements and goals for next semester.

Preston Mitchum, senator for academic affairs

Preston Mitchum said he went into Chipotle one day earlier in the semester and felt like a celebrity.

“Someone said, ‘Aren’t you Preston?'” he said. “They tried to give me the burrito for free.”

He refused, however.

“I paid for it,” he said. “I’m a Kent State student, not a celebrity.”

Mitchum said it was the weirdest thing that has happened to him since he became the senator for academic affairs. So far, he has made a lot of accomplishments this semester &mash; but not his platform goals.

“I haven’t completed one platform goal so far,” he said.

Mitchum’s platform goals were to promote the USS book exchange, to hold forums about the KAPS report and to make and distribute pamphlets about different LER classes available. Mitchum’s goal to promote the book exchange was taken care of, as the site was replaced with during the summer.

Instead, Mitchum said he has accomplished other things, such as completing a new academic complaint form and distributing pamphlets about the plus/minus scale. He said he also is sitting on more committees than he intended and has had events with some committees as well.

Mitchum said he has also worked with Student Legal Services in providing information tables and Faculty Senate with reworking the freshman forgiveness policy. Mitchum also sits on the Provost Search Committee. The committee has met about five times to discuss the replacement for Provost Paul Gaston and the characteristics and credentials the committee would like in the new provost, he said.

Mitchum said his proudest moment was when senate passed a resolution that took a stand on the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, stating that the genocide needs to end. He is now working on writing letters to state legislatures to let them know Kent State has an opinion on the matter. The resolution was passed Nov. 8.

“We need to realize this is a serious issue,” he said.

One of Mitchum’s platform goals that he said he hopes to achieve next semester is to hold a forum about the KAPS report.

“First I’m going to work with Sen. (Kourtney) Wolfgang to create a survey,” he said. “I think it is very necessary for the students. The downside to it is it is an academic forum.”

But Mitchum said holding a forum about the KAPS report is still extremely important because of the services the report provides to students.

“It’s amazing if you want to graduate,” he said.

Mitchum is now working on the proposed forum, writing questions and asking the other senators what suggestions they had at USS’ public meeting Wednesday.

Mitchum has more work to do, but said the senate as a whole has improved this year. He was senator for student advancement last year and said he thinks USS is completely different.

“Every year, senate’s going to be different,” he said. “This year, I think we all have an idea of how we want senate to look. It has improved dramatically. Our focus is more on programming and things of that nature . I think it deals with the leadership of the people.”

But some things still frustrate him, especially office hours.

“I take office hours so serious,” he said. “This is a job. If you didn’t come to your office hours at your real job, you would get fired. I always make sure I’m in here at least 10 to 25 hours a week. We’re supposed to be the highest and most respected organization on campus. How can you know if there’s any problems if you’re not here?”

But burritos and office hours aside, Mitchum said he has his sights set on reaching his goals next semester.

Benjamin Feld, senator for student advancement

Benjamin Feld half-smiled and said that when he ran for senator for student advancement, he “didn’t really have much of a platform.”

Feld’s platform goals were getting students more involved on campus, spreading awareness about Student Legal Services and continuing to chair the Student Leadership Development Board and working with student organization leaders.

Instead, Feld has spent much of his time working with Mobile Campus, which he said now has more than 900 students signed up, as well as putting together the Student Input Advisory Commission (SIAC) with Kourtney Wolfgang, senator for research and development.

“It needs more members,” he said. “I want to have it meet more often . We’ll just meet throughout the next year. It’s going to take the entire year to work on.”

Feld said Mobile Campus takes up most of his time. Mobile Campus is a text messaging service that connects students to their classes and student organizations by mass messaging. Students can also choose to receive messages from local retailers and get coupons and promotions.

“It has been a very good experience,” he said. “One of my major goals was to help with student organization communication. When Ross (Miltner, executive director) told me about Mobile Campus, I was excited. The company just came in and pretty much solved that for me.”

Feld said he will continue to work with Mobile Campus throughout the year and help it expand. He added that one of his goals is to improve communication and to make more awareness for student organizations.

Feld said he also wants to work with Megan Sedello, senator for university affairs, to evaluate on-campus safety. He said their work will focus on lighting and emergency poles around campus. Feld said he would also like to work with Wolfgang to survey students about on-campus safety.

Feld added his job description is broad, and he gets to pick what he wants to do.

“It’s a hard job,” he said. “It’s harder because you don’t have a direction unless you make it. I have to find it and get it done.”

Kourtney Wolfgang, senator for research and development

As the senator for research and development, Kourtney Wolfgang doesn’t credit her work with creating and developing surveys and polls as the most interesting part of her position.

Instead, Wolfgang said she feels meeting and working with Kent State President Lester Lefton has been the most interesting part of the Fall 2006 semester.

“He really wants to hear student input,” she said. “He really wants to hear students’ ideas and really change the campus.”

Wolfgang’s position is one that directly helps USS and the administration gauge student opinion. As senator for research and development, Wolfgang creates polls and surveys for students about problems, student services or proposed changes to the university.

Wolfgang recently finished compiling the data she has received from a FlashCash survey she has worked on with Justin Jeffery, senator for community affairs.

Wolfgang said she is always working on finding new ways to reach students for polls and surveys. She is now beginning to work on a survey about the KAPS report.

“Already I’ve worked on two surveys and have been getting student input,” she said.

Wolfgang added she wants to make her position “do more than it has in the past.”

“Me and Preston (Mitchum, senator for academic affairs) are working on a survey about the KAPS report so he can have it for next semester,” she said. Mitchum said he plans to use the results to help him plan a forum on the KAPS report.

Wolfgang’s platform goals were to work more with the All-Campus Programming Board to research popular programs at other universities, to work with other senators to let students know what projects USS is working on and to find new ways to reach students for polls and surveys through student organizations.

“I don’t think there’s any goals I have left,” she said.

Currently, Wolfgang said she is trying to get a diverse response from students to polls and surveys. Wolfgang has worked on one survey so far by walking around the Hub and getting responses from on-campus students.

Also this semester, Wolfgang has helped to start the Student Input Advisory Commission (SIAC), with Benjamin Feld, senator for student advancement.

“It’s been an eye opener,” Wolfgang said.

Contact student politics reporter Kali Price at [email protected].