Two groups, IGNITE and OPTiC, are campaigning to be the next executive slate for the Student Government Association at Ball State.
The Daily News talked to the members of each slate about their platform points to see if they're feasible to complete or implement in the following year.
Ignite — Gabrielle Lloyd, Zoe Taylor, Theodore Hoffman and Caleb Conley:
Point: Bias incident posters
Why: Lloyd said they want to put up Bias Incident Procedure posters in classrooms and residence halls in partnership with the Multicultural Center.
Bobby Steele, interim director of the Multicultural Center, said Lloyd has been working with the center to “put up posters and expand their influence across campus.”
Point: Continue working on Beneficence dialogue points
Why: Charlene Alexander, associate provost for diversity and director of the Office of Institutional Diversity, said because there are “so many topics that could be discussed,” continuing the dialogues would be beneficial to the campus community.
“Our office would be delighted to assist in establishing the pedagogy around dialogues as we have done in the past when invited to do so,” Alexander said.
Point: Mental health dialogue
Why: Tim Hess, associate director of clinical services, said both slates seem to be expanding on current programs hosted by the Counseling Center. Hess said the center has partnered with SGA in the past and is open to partnering up with the future slate.
Point: Cardinal Kitchen + school supplies
Why: Taylor said the slate would provide an additional $1,500 to Cardinal Kitchen at the beginning of each school year for school supplies. The addition is reflected in Ignite’s proposed budget, and if implemented, Cardinal Kitchen vide president Madison Lyon said the extra funds could be used to buy school supplies.
“This addition to Cardinal Kitchen's inventory would allow us to expand our reaches of helping students in need. In addition to offering food, we have a stock of toiletries,” Lyon said. “Adding school supplies would be a lovely way to continue our mission of giving students struggling with money one less thing to think about.”
Point: Sports promotion
Why: Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Fan Engagement Shawn Sullivan spoke to Taylor, Ignite's vice-president candidate, and Hoffman, the treasurer candidate, back in January about athletics promotion. While Sullivan said it was more of a brainstorming session, it appears that athletics is looking to continue working with SGA.
“From the athletic department standpoint, we are open and willing to participate in just about anything that involves Ball State students,” Sullivan said. “Athletics hosts at least a hundred home athletic events every year, and the more we can do to increase attendance at those events, we are supportive of.”
Point: Women's Leadership Conference
Why: The Daily News was unable to get in contact with Kevin Carey, the assistant director of Greek Life, who Ignite said it spoke to regarding this platform point. There are, however, many conferences similar to this that are held on Ball State’s campus, so creating this one should be possible.
Point: People’s Choice Platform — ROTC Partnership
Why: Ignite is proposing to create a cabinet position for ROTC. This platform point was announced at the SGA debate on Thursday night, and the Daily News was unable to fact-check the information.
Point: Navigate the transition
Why: Lloyd, a student member of incoming President Geoffrey S. Mearns’ transition team, said she wants SGA to hold an open forum allowing students to meet the new president and express their expectations.
University spokesperson Joan Todd said the transition team will meet soon to discuss various options.
“Right now, most anything will be considered — but it will be up to the team and Mr. Mearns ultimately to decide which activities will make the best use of his time,” Todd said. “One thing we do know for sure is that Mr. Mearns is very student-focused.”
Point: Allocate money toward diversity programs
Why: Ignite will make funds available for organizations to support diversity events and programs for students in addition to the small organizations fund, which provides grants and co-sponsorships for student organizations events and services.
Current SGA treasurer Emily Halley said she’s spoken with both slates about platform points regarding additions to the small organizations fund and believes the implementation is possible with the proposed budgets from each slate.
Point: Collaborate with Student Rights for book loans
Why: Lloyd said Ignite wants to help alleviate costs for the Student Rights and Community Standards’ book loan program via money in the the slate's proposed budget.
However, neither slate has contacted the Student Rights Office regarding the loan program, Student Rights and Community Standards secretary Cindy Cox said. The slate would have to meet with director Michael Gillian, and Cox said she could coordinate such a meeting.
Why: Junior marketing and communication consultant Matthew Hood created the website Ignite has utilized for their campaign. He said he is in the process of creating an official website that either he, or someone elected by SGA, will manage if Ignite wins.
“It’s totally a feasible point for them, I’m working on it [the website] currently, and if they win the election, it will definitely be published within two weeks after they win,” Hood said.
Point: SGA Council for Organizations
Why: This platform point would create monthly meetings with student organization leaders that will allow them to address issues without being directly involved with SGA. The success of this program would rely on the willingness of other campus organizations to participate as well.
“There’s need to be a planned laid out on how to properly oversee this, how will the Office of Student Life play a role, and what is the true purpose of this platform point,” current SGA President James Wells said. “Is it to just score points with smaller organizations in the elections are is there really a benefit to having it? And if so, what is that benefit that is different than having the Office of Student Life?”
Point: Weekly videos
Why: According to Erika Espinoza, communications director of SGA, the current Facebook live videos the organization streams don’t reach very many viewers. Espinoza also said it is likely the videos can be hosted online, but is unsure of the success of sending them through campus-wide email.
“It does seem reasonable to have these meetings videotaped and put online, but not necessarily distributed via email,” she said. “If the videos live somewhere online, say the SGA website or a YouTube channel, and you sent email newsletters or reminders, students might watch them.”
Point: Benny Talks
Why: Benny Talks will be monthly dialogues designed to help connect students to resources on and off campus while also expressing possible concerns. This is possible, provided that representatives from different campus, community and organizational resources will be in attendance to help guide the conversations.
Point: Environmental Commission
Why: Taylor said the new commission will help strengthen the environmental cabinet position and create a new environmental council that connects cabinet members, senators, student organizations and university departments to discuss more ways to make Ball State “even more environmentally friendly.” The success of this commission will be determined by voluntary involvement from those individuals.
Point: Suicide prevention training
Why: The Counseling Center has done other QPR suicide prevention training with SGA within the past year and Hess said the center is willing to partner again. Hess also said Ignite's goal with having 50 to 60 students go through the program to start is not unreasonable but will depend on SGA’s vision and the resources of the Counseling Center.
OPTiC – Greg Carbó, Katy Volikas, Kaia Thompson and Lizzie Ford:
Point: Mobilizing discussion about OpenStax core textbooks
Why: On the OpenStax side, many other universities offer OpenStax textbooks for their common core classes, so that would be possible. But Dani Nicholson, association director of marketing and communications for OpenStax, said it would be up to the professors to decide if they want to use the books or not. The slate said they did reach out to several common core professors, but the professors did not want their names to be used.
Point: Assisting and expanding current academic programs and resources on campus
Why: Assistant Director of Academic Advising Laura Pittman said she had an email exchange with Carbó regarding the REACH and PACE programs in regards to promoting their usefulness. However, there is no firm plan in place at this time.
Point: Fostering student-teacher relationships
Why: Carbó said this will be a $4,000 fund that students, not professors, can apply for portions of to help make classes “more fun.” Carbó said he was “110 percent sure” that this will be started if OPTiC takes office; however, he also said no administrators or other offices are involved in this fund at the time.
Point: Advancing technology on campus
Why: Carbó said his slate has contacted the staff at Bracken Library to discuss making printers more accessible to students on different floors of the building. Assistant Dean for Public Services and University Libraries Suzanne Rice confirmed that OPTiC has started conversations about the printers with library staff.
“We are looking into the issues associated with and the feasibility of expanding public printing to the upper floor(s) of Bracken Library,” Rice said.
Carbó said OPTiC is also proposing to implement more charging stations around the campus, which is reflected in the slate’s proposed budget.
Point: Organizing UPD cadet initiative
Why: The Daily News was unable to reach a representative from the University Police Department, but when Carbó presented a similar platform point with the 18 slate in 2016, UPD Chief Jim Duckham said he was interested in learning more about the point and was willing to have conversations about the initiative. Carbó did meet with Duckham on behalf of the slate to discuss this point.
Point: Initiating a five-year art program
Why: School of Art director Dr. Arne Flaten confirmed that OPTiC discussed the need for public art on campus. Flaten said this would not be a means of displaying student art around campus, however.
“Our discussion was about getting students involved in the fabrication of large-scale public art: sculpture, murals, computer-mapped projections, etc.,” Flaten said. “I suggested that it could be paid for in several ways, including immersive learning courses, and that students could and should be intimately involved in the process. The School of Art would be interested in helping to apply for grants, to speak with upper administration, to work with the Office of Facilities and to help write compelling proposals.”
Point: Establishing a central location for diversity resources
Why: Ford said she spoke with associate director of Disability Services Courtney Jarrett about making diversity resources more centrally available on Ball State’s website. Jarrett, who works for the Council on Diversity and Inclusion, confirmed the conversation and said she recommended that OPTiC reach out to the council because they are “already planning changes to she website.”
“It wouldn't be challenging for [OPTiC] to be in on that conversation,” Jarrett said.
Point: Providing incentives on multicultural organization collaboration
Why: With this platform point, OPTiC will connect multicultural organizations for programming and events by adding and allocating funds to collaborative efforts.
“Adding a fund is definitely feasible, it will just require the slate to consider how to budget out for all other platform points to have enough to make those feasible as well,” Halley said. “[The current slate] were fortunate that many of our platform points did not require funding, allowing us to allocate almost 5 percent of our budget to this fund.”
Point: Promoting mental health initiatives on campus
Why: Hess said these proposed programs appear to be expansions on existing programs the Counseling Center has. SGA has partnered with the Counseling Center in the past. Last year, they had programs on mental health awareness and had a Ball State alumni speak on her experiences.
Sara Barker, Kersten Collins, Mary Freda, Robby General, Brynn Mechem and Andrew Smith contributed to this story.