The following is an independent analysis of the 2018 SGA Elections and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tiger Media Network.
BY JADEN MOUNT
Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, April 11, at 8:00 am, Fort Hays State University (FHSU) students can cast their votes for the 2018-19 Student Government Association (SGA) President, Vice President, and Senatorial candidates. (Click here to view the list of running Senatorial candidates.)
As the short campaign season that started officially after the SGA Candidate Meeting on Tuesday, March 26, comes to a close, it is time to sit down and have an analytical look at the platform and debate responses of the single, official ticket in this election, Presidential Candidate Adam Schibi and Vice Presidential Candidate Kayelani Kirschbaum, as well as addressing the notion of there only being one official ticket.
Referred to by Kirschbaum as “ACT,” the pair’s campaign platform is based on Affordability, Community, and Transparency. (Click here to view the official platform statement.)
Perhaps the most pressing issue for college students, Schibi and his running mate are focusing on lowering per-class costs, advocating for state investment, partnering with both the Student Health Center and the Kelly Center on their services, and increasing students’ overall knowledge of financial grants and services here at FHSU.
Looking specifically at lowering per-class cost, the platforms specifically states the following in order to succeed in this objective:
“Continue to work on making open-resource textbooks more common. Lower the need for various access codes and third-party homework platforms.”
Open-resource textbooks, according to Open Textbook Library, “are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed.” Assessed by colleges and universities, the utilization of free textbooks could dramatically change the costs for students across FHSU. Certain majors will be more affected than others, but, if achieved and successfully implemented, textbooks would no longer be a financial stressor on students.
The second part of this statement can be concerning for some. FHSU utilizes, to my knowledge, at least two online, third-party platforms, BryteWave and Pearson. Pearson, specifically, is a homework platform used in classes such as Accounting, Elements of Statistics, and more. Pearson also provides a full, online textbook similar to what a student would have physically and is cheaper than purchasing a hard-copy.
Some Pearson courses also provide lecture videos for additional learning and/or for students taking the course online. If such a platform is taken away, both on-campus and virtual students who utilize these services might find themselves at a disadvantage, especially if their learning ability is different compared to textbook readers and lecture-lovers.
On the subject of Community, the ticket plans to engage the FHSU Alumni, virtual student, international, and the local Hays communities to bring about growth for the student population in terms of networking and relationship-building.
Engaging the FHSU Alumni and local Hays communities does have a lot of potential if approached correctly. There is a major chance for success as human beings tend to have a natural “tick” for helping others out. To what degree simply depends on who is capable and how they can each individual alumni and community member could contribute. Keep in mind that not everyone has the ability to help no matter how much they would want to.
There are too many factors to consider in reference to the success of this aspect, thus, if the ticket is elected, we will have to wait and see what the results say.
The platform’s concept for Transparency focuses on building more of a relationship between the FHSU Administration, SGA, and Student Body for ease and spread of communication as well as instilling civic engagement.
Where this will allow students to be informed and make informed decisions, there is the overall question from students of why they should care. Many college students have demanding classes, work schedules, and/or personal circumstances that prevent them from being engaged. There are those who do not specifically wish to be involved for their own reasons, but this does not speak for the entire nor the majority of the Student Body.
The same can be said about instilling civic engagement within the Student Body. Many will care about what is going on and do what they can to help, but others won’t be interested. The key is to encourage in a non-demanding manner for students to be engaged on-campus and abroad.
SGA Debate Responses
At the SGA-hosted President and Vice President Debate, Schibi and Kirschbaum were able to express their platform in more detail as well as answer specific questions, including the topics of engagement and representing diversity. (Click here to view the full debate.)
Presidential Candidate – Adam Schibi
The first individual question Schibi was pressed on was what would be the first task to complete if elected?
“From the first day in office, I would like to establish a point of communication with everyone on campus; from the administration to student organizations and everybody that has a take in what the university has to offer.”
The tagline communication is key and can never be more important in such a position. Each year brings new challenges and problems, thus being able to have those lines of communication can be critical. However, the question of how effectively would Mr. Schibi be in the position is something that cannot be determined during the election process. If elected, this key notion will be something to watch over as well as compliant or critique over the course of the term.
Schibi also recognized his experience in engaging with a variety of students to pushing student interests stating, “…being able to see different scenarios for each of them, really being able to replicate that going forward from the state level…really being able to go out and saying ‘This is why our students are spending their time here are Fort Hays’…”
Knowing and understanding the students you represent is important in any leadership role. But, going back to how a good portion of students chooses not to be involved, one cannot, generally or specifically know, the reason why students are attending FHSU or their interests. More than likely, those who aren’t involved may simply have no interest besides keeping their education as affordable as possible.
Vice Presidential Candidate – Kayelani Kirschbaum
Kirschbaum was quick to credit SGA on the topic of representing a diverse campus stating, “…we have representatives from every college, that’s something we are already doing and it’s a way we get all sorts of perspectives on campus.”
For those who are unaware, the SGA is made up of representatives from each of the colleges that make up FHSU. But does this system really represent diversity at Fort Hays? To many, diversity means the variety of cultures that the Student Body brings rather than the similar college degrees.
Kirschbaum was also asked about continued civic engagement on campus.
“A lot of people do think of voting whenever they do think civic engagement and that is something I would like to focus on only because our generation is one of the lowest percentage of voters in America right now. And that is terrifying…[taking] steps maybe throughout the year that encourages why elections are important and how to get them to better understand how elections work through SGA…”
According to the United States Election Project, voters ages 18-29 are the lowest classification of voters in the United States. What led to this can include a variety of reasons from being too busy with their individual life issues to believing their votes do not truly count. Assuming whatever measures are taken by Ms. Kirschbaum, if elected, and the rest of SGA is successful, it could have major positive implications in voting for future SGA elections as well as state and local elections.
Only One Ticket?
As a final note, it is imperative that voters understand that simply because there is a single, official President and Vice President ticket, does not mean you automatically have to vote for Schibi and Kirschbaum
Students can write a combined pair instead of the official ticket. To be considered a ticket, this pair must earn at least five votes. To win, of course, they must beat out any competing tickets.
Elections will occur from tomorrow, Wednesday, April 11, at 8:00 am to Thursday, April 12, at 4:30 pm on TigerLink. The SGA will announce the results of the election at 6:45 pm in the Memorial Union’s Black and Gold Room.