By Ashley Hocking
Senators from the OneKU coalition officially transitioned into their positions on Wednesday, April 27 at a joint Student Senate meeting with the 2015-2016 Senate body.
Former student body president Jessie Pringle and former student body vice president Chancellor Adams ceremoniously handed over their positions to Stephonn Alcorn and Gabby Naylor, the 2016-2017 student body president and student body vice president at the University of Kansas.
Alcorn and Naylor defeated Richie Hernandez and John Castellaw of the CARE KU coalition. OneKU won 90.6 percent of the student body’s vote, while CARE KU won 9.39 percent of the vote.
“I think we have a good amount of backing from the student body for our platforms and our initiatives, so I think that puts us in a very good position for the year,” said Victoria Snitsar, a newly elected student Senator for the School of Journalism.
At the joint Student Senate meeting, Isaac Bahney, Sophia Templin, and Adam Steinhibler were elected as holdover Senators. Holdover senators are elected from the previous Senate body to continue serving as senators for next academic year.
“The purpose of the position is to create that smooth flow from one senate to the next one,” Bahney said. “With this position, I want to serve as a mentor. I want to be one of those experienced voices in this body next year.”
Students Danny Summers, Dalton Wiley, Abdoulie Njai, Connor Birzer, Mitch Reinig, Mady Womack, Allyssa Castilleja, Whit Collins and Amy Schumacher also assumed their positions on the 2016-2017 Student Senate Executive Staff.
“I am confident that this is a team of people that will remain effective and committed to this body and to this University,” Alcorn said.
One of the primary functions of Student Senate is to allocate the required campus fees that students pay to the University each semester. The required campus fee for the 2016-2017 academic school year is $455.50 per student.
“Student Senate currently brings in about 24 million dollars in revenue from student fees, which are spent on student programs at the university,” Snitsar said. “I think people should know where their money is being spent.”
Student Senate also voted unanimously to raise students’ required campus fees for the next school year. The funds will be allocated to the University Daily Kansan (UDK).
The UDK’s portion of the required campus fees was raised from $1.00 to $2.50 for this academic year. For the following two years, the UDK will receive $2 per student. The UDK will no longer request funding from Student Senate after the 2019 Fiscal Year.
Student Senate decided to increase the UDK’s funding for the 2016-2017 year after UDK editors filed a lawsuit on Feb. 5 against top KU officials for approving Student Senate’s $45,000 annual cut to the newspaper’s funding last year.
“I think that Student Senators as a whole didn’t realize that this decision affected a very large group,” Snitsar said. “I want to accurately portray the issues that journalism school students are facing because I think the inaccurate portrayal was one of the reasons the funding for the University Daily Kansan got cut last year.”
Last year, the student organization Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk called for the impeachment of the top three Student Senate officers for allegedly failing to stand in support of black peers during the Black Lives Matter movement. The 2015-2016 Student Senate body ultimately decided to not impeach the top officers.
In light of the events from last year, a Multicultural Student Government was created. Alcorn and Naylor hope to foster a unified and secure relationship with members of the Multicultural Student Government, which was funded by Student Senate in March.
At the Student Senate meeting, Alcorn and Naylor encouraged Student Senators to actively seek out voices of students that are traditionally unheard and marginalized.
“The platforms that we’re going to work on: they on came from students,” Naylor said. “No matter what, we are going to make a change.”
Alcorn and Naylor are determined to demonstrate the viability of Student Senate to the student body as an inclusive and effective student government.
“As student body president, I am committed to making sure every single Jayhawk feels heard and valued,” Alcorn said.