For the first time in eight years, only one group is campaigning to be the next executive slate for Ball State’s Student Government Association.
The Daily News spoke with all four members of Amplify to see if their platform points are feasible to complete or implement within the next academic year.
Amplify’s executive slate consists of candidates Isaac Mitchell, president; Matt Hinkleman, vice president; Kyleigh Snavely, secretary; and Jalen Jones, treasurer. Here’s a look at their platform points:
Point: Raise awareness on sexual assault and alcohol abuse
Yes = This can be completed/implemented in one year.
Probably = This can be completed/implemented in one year, given some obstacles and/or some current uncertainties.
Maybe = This can be completed/implemented in one year, but there are still questions, unseen obstacles and/or some current uncertainties.
Unlikely = This likely can’t be completed/implemented in one year due to obstacles and/or some current uncertainties.
No = This can’t be completed/implemented in one year.
Unknown = It is unknown if this can be completed/implemented in one year.
Mitchells said the slate would like to raise awareness on sexual assault and alcohol abuse through educational programs. Hinkleman said Amplify could potentially have an expert speak at freshman orientation.
The slate said they may work with other organizations, though they haven’t yet met with anyone to speak on the matter. However, slate members said they plan on working with Abby Haworth, senior assistant director of admissions and orientation.
Haworth said she has not been contacted regarding this platform point.
“Currently, we do actually have programming on [sexual assault and alcohol abuse] so it isn’t something that is neglected currently in our programs,” Haworth said.
Haworth added that she’s interested in hearing what Amplify wants to expand on, given that programs already exist.
Point: Mental health awareness
Why: Retiring executive slate OPTiC focused on this point during their term. Now, Amplify would like to allocate more money toward the Counseling Center and make students more aware of the resources Ball State and Muncie have to offer.
In order to do so, they plan to allocate SGA funds to make materials such as posters and brochures to spread awareness.
Current SGA secretary Lizzie Ford said she has spoken with Amplify members and said it is possible to accomplish this point if they work well with university administration.
“It's hard to know if they can get [funding] done in a year,” Ford said. “Bringing awareness is feasible. I see it as they have been saying that they are amplifying what we [OPTiC] have already done.”
Former SGA executive slate Summit president James Wells said that based on his past experiences, giving more funds toward the Counseling Center isn’t feasible, largely due to the fact that SGA’s budget isn’t the proper place to allocate money.
“What Summit did was bring awareness and partner with the Counseling Center as best as we could to drive the conversation and advocate for changes,” Wells said.
He said that Summit’s presentation before the Board of Trustees during his tenure as SGA president was a huge part in the university increasing the Counseling Center’s budget.
“If anything, Amplify needs to do some more research, talk to the Counseling Center, administration and understand how the operating budget and funding is structured for the university. SGA’s budget is a drop in the bucket compared to what it takes to operate the entire university’s services.”
Additionally, Bill Betts, director of counseling and health services, said Amplify has not been in contact with him.
Point: Extend Bracken weekend hours
Why: Hinkleman said because Bracken Library currently closes at 9 p.m. on the weekends, students aren’t able to use the resources the library offers after hours
Hinkleman said he and Jones spoke with Matthew Shaw, dean of university libraries, about starting a pilot program that would extend library hours until 11 p.m. or midnight in the fall. If the program is successful, he said SGA could then work on legislation to make it permanent in Spring 2019.
Shaw said he did speak to Amplify members, but he wasn’t completely sure of the feasibility of making the program happen: “I simply don’t know the answer yet,” Shaw said.
Point: Expand Student Appreciation Day
Why: SGA traditionally holds a student appreciation day once a year, Snavely said. She would like to implement this event once each semester to promote student bonding and recognition.
“So many students here are working their tails off at Ball State,” Snavely said. “We need to appreciate them more, especially SGA.”
This event would be completely run by SGA.
Point: More outlets for student input
Why: Mitchell said Amplify members want to ensure students can give more input to SGA. Mitchell said this will likely be done on the new SGA website or through polls on social media.
Jones said Amplify members are “100 percent sure this will happen,” but are unsure of what it will completely look like.
Current SGA president Greg Carbó said SGA has taken steps this semester to build a website in order for students to have access to SGA.
“So, our clear objective was to build a website for diversity resources and also for senators to have a portal so they could login and have access to all of our files, and also for students to log in and be able to see all of our stuff as well,” Carbó said. “Amplify has mentioned that they are wanting to continue the initiatives to communicate [with] students through that way.”
Carbó said this point is 100 percent feasible.
“We, the current SGA slate, have basically made the backbone of the website, so we kind of have everything up,” Carbó said. “We’re of course missing some bits and pieces here, and it will be done before the year’s end, but having more access to the SGA, and kind of building new things on the website, I think [Amplify is] more than capable to do that.”
Point: ROTC priority scheduling
Why: Mitchell said Amplify wants to implement priority scheduling for ROTC students to help them get their required classes because ROTC members are required to graduate in four years.
Last year, OPTiC tried to pass similar legislation that would enable priority scheduling for veterans. However, after passing through SGA senate, the bill died in a university council committee. Hinkleman said Amplify will work with SGA senator Kaylin Armstrong, who wrote the legislation last year, to make new legislation for just ROTC students.
“When you look at the legislation that was written from last year, it wasn’t just for ROTC students, but more veterans as a whole, which is a large community on campus,” said Armstrong, who is also Cadet Battalion Commander of ROTC. “We’re going to rewrite the legislation for a smaller group of people, just the contracted ROTC students, which is only about 30-40 people a year.”
Armstrong said she’s confident the new bill will pass because it is more specific in that it only applies to the current contracted ROTC students. Additionally, Armstrong said she plans to meet with Nancy Cronk, university registrar.
Point: Relocate trash receptacles and recycling bins
Feasible: Yes, already the case
Why: Mitchell said his dream would be to place a recycling can next to every trash can on campus — especially outdoors — in order to encourage students to recycle more often.
Jim Lowe, associate vice president for facilities planning and management, said Amplify has not talked to him about this point or any others.
Lowe did say the university currently has recycle bins and non-recycle trash cans in all offices on campus, as well as a similar arrangement along campus sidewalks.
“There may be a few locations where only a trash can is available,” Lowe said.
Due to cross contamination issues, Lowe added that many recycle cans were removed from general purpose classrooms several years ago. Although Amplify did not did not specifically address recycle cans in classrooms, Lowe said the university would be willing to try another classroom or two to determine if users would comply with separation: “We welcome the support and would ask for clarity on this opportunity.”
Point: Inform students on what can be recycled
Why: Hinkleman said he would like to have informational materials like posters or stickers around recycling bins to help students to properly recycle.
Hinkleman said Amplify would like to contact Lowe and the Partnership for Student Sustainable Advancement (PSSA) regarding the matter, but have yet to do so.
Lowe said finding an effective means of communicating the university’s recycling efforts could prove beneficial, and university officials would welcome any and all ideas.
Additionally, if SGA approves the creation of a green council, Hinkleman said it would help accomplish this platform point.
Point: Place hygienic bins in all residence halls
Why: Hinkleman said he would like to implement hygienic bins, similar to those used for disposal of feminine hygiene products, in both men and women’s restrooms to increase gender inclusivity.
Hinkleman said they have talked with Residence Hall Association president and SGA senator Kathy Berryhill.
“I think if proper research is done by the end of this school year, maybe something could happen within the year,” Berryhill said. “RHA and SGA would/should work together researching and covering all bases so that, if necessary, a strong piece of legislation can go to RHA's floor. From there we'd send the piece to HRL [Housing and Residence Life].”
Point: Allow students to use preferred names
Why: Mitchell said he wants students, specifically transgender students, to be able to have their preferred names on Health Center forms, class rolls and Blackboard.
“I’ve talked with multiple students who have talked about the experience of having a dead name called out across a room or across a lobby, and I don’t think they should have to go through that,” Mitchell said.
Bill Betts, director of counseling and health services, who was not contacted by Amplify, said the Counseling Center and Health Center forms already allow any students to use their preferred names.
Mitchell said he would also like to see preferred names appear on student IDs. Due to university policy, students, faculty or staff members must provide a social security card, valid driver’s license, marriage license, a divorce decree or other legal documents to prove their name has been changed.
Mitchell said he is unsure of how to implement preferred names because “most trans students haven’t made the legal switch because it’s a long and arduous process,” but he would like to open dialogue with university officials about it.
Additionally, the use of preferred names is being addressed by Ball State’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, said Ro Anne Royer Engle, associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment services.
“If Amplify becomes the next SGA executive board and supports the efforts of the council regarding use of preferred names, it will only serve to benefit students by impacting their lived experiences on campus,” Royer Engle said.
Point: LGBTQ resource center
Why: Mitchell said this point is a top priority for Amplify, and he would like to create a 5-year plan to make it happen.
Mitchell said he cannot guarantee how the resource center would look — if it would be a new building or located in a current building — or how much it would cost. He also said no slate members had reached out to university officials about the idea yet.
Mitchell said slate members gauged student interest and found that many thought the university needs a center, given that Ball State is the only public college in Indiana without one.
Mariann Fant, former Spectrum president, said Mitchell reached out to her a few weeks ago, but due to the monetary issues involved with having a resource center, she told him that this point would be more of symbolic one.
“I’m so glad they put it with their platform points. I think it represents we’re not messing around,” Fant said. “This is something that we want, and we’re not going to let it go to the wayside. And I’m not the first person who has pointed out that we don’t have a LGBT resource center. But because it is so difficult, it keeps getting pushed away. But I think if they keep pushing legislation, even if it’s not realistic, I think it still says we want it to be realistic and we have a better vision for Ball State.”
Brooklyn Arizmendi, current Spectrum president, said nobody from Amplify reached out to her. Although she said a resource center was necessary, she was unsure if Amplify would be able to make it happen.
“I think that having that platform and being that voice is so important, and I think that they could definitely push that forward in a big way next year,” Arizmendi said. “I’m not necessarily sure we could get the resource center because that’s a lot of funds and assigning a full-time staff member, but it’s definitely huge for them to be saying that about us right now.”
Point: Shuttle from Village to downtown
Why: Mitchell said some students currently have no means to get to downtown Muncie. He said if they were able to, it would help Muncie businesses and build the relationship between Ball State and the City.
He said the shuttle would ideally run for three hours every Saturday, which Bruce Piner, supervisor of bus operations, said would cost $132. Mitchell said this cost would come out of the SGA budget.
Additionally, Mitchell said he contacted Sue Weller, director of facilities business services and transportation, regarding the matter. However, Weller said she is unsure if this point is feasible.
“I don’t know the answer to that. It’s going to take a lot more specifics. We have never done that in the past,” Weller said. “You know, MITS is the city bus company, and they do provide a lot of city coverage so, I don’t know.”
According to the MITS website, there is a route — Rural King/Walmart — that runs from campus to downtown Muncie. MITS buses are free for students.
Point: Shuttle to football games
Why: Hinkleman said in the past, there were shuttles that took on-campus students to and from Scheumann Stadium. He said reinstating this shuttle would be valuable because it allows more students to get to sporting events.
Weller said the Athletics Department funded the shuttle in the past. Hinkleman said SGA could potentially partner with the department in the future, though no members of Amplify have reached out to athletics yet.
However, SGA senators Kam Bontrager and Nick Eghierski are currently working on legislation to get a shuttle started.
“[Amplify] would like for buses to run up and down McKinley, especially on Saturdays,” Weller said. “I think that is probably something we could do.”
Weller said this could be feasible to start at the beginning of next semester. However, she said it would be complicated to run the shuttles to football games on weeknights because those games take place during normal shuttle hours.
Point: Shuttle to Farmer’s Market
Why: Last fall, as a senator, Snavely set up a shuttle to the Minnetrista Farmer’s Market during Welcome Week. Now, Snavely said she would like to see a shuttle run to the market once a month from August to October.
Snavely said SGA has the potential to partner with other organizations including the Welcome Week Committee, College of Health Leadership Council, Office of Drug and Administration and RHA, but if not, SGA could fund the endeavor by themselves.
Weller said she didn’t remember having a discussion with the slate about this particular shuttle, but said she’s worked well with SGA in the past and would be willing to work on this shuttle as well.
“We do have a lot of vetting to see just how it would work,” Weller said. “I don’t know where buses would would drop off or where they would turn around. I mean, there are all kinds of things to consider and we’re working on those things. I don’t have any answers for you yet.”
Point: Provide more opportunity for service
Why: Jones said he would like SGA to provide more opportunity for community involvement, adding that he met with members of Student Voluntary Services (SVS) to ask about their ideas and how to get more word out to students across campus.
Jones said SGA’s role would involve creating a marketing plan and how to promote SVS events. Additionally, he said he would like to get more senators involved with volunteer work.
Madison Coffee, SVS secretary said SVS already has a PR person who creates posters and a social media presence.
Additionally, SVS vice president Casey Leonardi said the organization would be willing to partner with SGA to promote service opportunities.
“The Muncie community always has a great need for help, especially from our generation. So I think it’s definitely possible if service is going to be one of their main points during their year, but it’ll be just if they want to get involved,” Leonardi said. “As SVS, we’re always willing to partner with campus organizations, especially SGA to create those opportunities in the community.”
Point: Parking passes for pregnant women
Why: This idea is currently being worked on in the SGA Senate. The bill would allow pregnant or post-pregnant students to park closer to their classes by allocating two to three spots in the North parking lot, McKinley Garage and the Student Center garage.
Snavely said she spoke with Nick Capozolli, the parking services manager. Capozolli said parking services officials are still investigating the matter and are beginning conversation about the allocation of those spots.
“Right now, we are still doing our research to see whether or not it is something we can actually implement,” Capozolli said. “I spoke with Kyleigh a couple of weeks ago. We are investigating it, but as I told her, I am not making any promises that it can or will be done. It is something that she brought to us. We have been talking with disability services, we are not 100 percent sure right now.”
Allie Kirkman, Brynn Mechem, Casey Smith, Elena Stidham, Evan Weaver, Hannah Gunnell, Liz Rieth, Mary Freda and Sara Barker contributed to this story.