By Michael P Garrett
This week marks the first time the University of Kansas class of 2017 has been faced with a decision that will affect not only their cohort, but also campus in its entirety. This week is freshman student senate elections.
Last Wednesday, Sept. 4, kicked off the beginning of the campaign season for 27 freshman looking to make a difference at our university by way of Student Senate. Freshman weren’t able to participate in the campus-wide election that took place last spring since they weren’t students yet.
Many of the freshman candidates are running for different reasons and nearly all of them come from different backgrounds.
One freshman, Riley Brown from Olathe, Kan., decided to run for senator in order to make a difference at KU and also to meet new people.
“My father has always told me, ‘It is not what you know, it is who you know,’” Brown said. “The relationships that I build in the next four years will help benefit me in the future.”
Brown went to Olathe South high school where he estimates he knew about half of the students there. His last year in school, Brown was the senior class president. He had the opportunity to meet new people and make an impact at his school.
Brown hopes to continue that here at KU.
“I hope to become close with as many students that I come in contact with,” Brown said. “The biggest thing I admire as a person is the way to communicate with others and make an impact on other’s lives.”
Running for Senate spurs a multitude of campaign strategies, some more creative than others. Many of the conventional tactics include “chalking” where students write their names all over campus with chalk or passing out flier around the hill.
Brown wanted to get more creative with the way he campaigned, so he took to social media. Brown created a campaign video expressing why freshman should choose him as a senator. He tweeted the video from his personal twitter account and even got the KU men’s basketball team to help him spread the word via twitter.
KU Basketball player, Perry Ellis, promoted Brown’s campaign video via his personal twitter account.
KU basketball player, Conner Frankamp, retweeted Brown’s tweet about his campaign video.
Editor’s note: See Brown’s campaign video at the end of the article.
Another campaign tactic candidates use is running with a group. Maddi Duncan, a political science major from Lenexa, decided to join forces with other potential new senators and run as a team. Duncan is running with a group called Vote Five, which Duncan said is a comprehensive group with people of all different backgrounds.
“We each bring different strengths that really work together and I think it will help us get things done in Senate,” Duncan said about her team.
Since Duncan is studying political science and has an extensive background in public speaking, she thought getting involved with senate just made sense. Duncan is excited to have a chance to have a voice on Senate and has a lot on her personal list of things she wants to accomplish. Vote Five, as a group, has plans as well.
“The first thing we are looking towards is a recycling initiative on Jayhawk Boulevard,” Duncan said.
Although there are a lot of candidates, only five will be selected once the results of the election come in. These five will be expected to contribute to Student Senate immediately after being chosen.
Tyler Childress, the Chief of Staff for Student Senate, said the freshman impact is extremely important.
“They [freshman] are expected to voice the concerns of the freshman class as a whole and to be advocates on their behalf,” Childress said. “Freshmen Senators are working side by side with all senators, so they have just as great of an impact as the others.”
Even if a candidate isn’t elected there are still ways for freshman to become involved with Senate. Students can get involved in one of three ways, applying to be a replacement senator, they can join the JayLEAD program where they work closely with Student Senate executive staff members or, finally, they can apply to be on one of four Student Senate standing committees.
Both Duncan and Brown anticipate they will become involved in student senate or in other groups around campus in some way if they don’t get elected.
Freshman can cast their vote by visiting https://apps.ku.edu/~election/
Results of the election will be posted on Student Senate social media and online tonight at 6 p.m.
Riley Brown, freshman Student Senate candidate.
Maddi Duncan, freshman Student Senate candidate.
Official freshman senator ballot:
James ‘Seamus’ Kluk
Bruce F. Stevens
Riley Brown’s campaign video.