With voting for the 2019 Student Government Association (SGA) four days away, The Daily News has fact-checked platform points of all nominated slates.
The Daily News spoke with all four members of Empower, Elevate and United to see how feasible it is to complete or implement their platform points within the 2019-20 academic year.
The Daily News also spoke with Ball State departments, administrators, professors and officials to complete the fact-check.
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.
Implement a self-protection course in the curriculum to combat sexual assault.
Why: Empower said it wants to implement a course designed to combat sexual assault to serve as a Physical Fitness and Wellness (PFW) course alongside other classes like jogging and walking.
The slate also reached out to sociology professor Mellisa Holtzman who runs a program called Elemental which is a self-protection seminar at Ball State that combines education on consent, alcohol awareness and gendered interactions along with self-defense curriculum.
Empower presidential candidate Julian Simmerman said the slate reached out to a few kinesiology professors about the objective and said they received “a very good response.” He said the course has about the same level of physical activity as other PFW classes.
What we found: Holtzman said she has taught the course on campus and across the nation. She said the class could easily be adapted into a physical education class, but said she has no idea how it would play out in terms of the implementation of the course in PFW.
Sarah Shore-Beck, assistant lecturer of kinesiology, said although this can’t be created into a PFW course, it could possibly be integrated into other PFW courses as a week-long segment.
Kendra Zenisek, assistant lecturer of kinesiology and coordinator of physical fitness and wellness, said there a lot of complications.
She said administratively, the department is limited and is unable to hire faculty that would be able to teach those courses.
Another issue, she said, is there are certain assessments in place to evaluate health-related fitness components, and she said despite the importance of the self-protection course, it does not fit within the health-related fitness component to be made into a PFW course.
“We have specific assessments. All of our activity classes have to engage in pre-imposed testing so that they’re engaging in some type of cardio respiratory assessment,” Zenisek said.
She said because the cardiorespiratory piece of the self-protection class would need to be emphasized, detracting from the actual focus of the class.
Safe ride home program
Providing students with free or discounted rides home on Thursday-Sunday nights
Why: Empower said it wants to follow in the steps of the University of Central Florida (UCF) in a safe ride program by having Uber and/or Lyft give Ball State students half off rides Thursday-Sunday nights.
Simmerman said the slate had begun talking to Lyft about this point, but did not mention any concrete deals or discussions with Lyft.
Nate Woods, treasurer elect, said they are trying to work out expenses but have budgeted $15,000-$20,000 to pay for the amount left unpaid from the half off rides. They said they have not seen examples of students receiving free rides.
Empower said Charlie Charter is slow and might take up to 15 minutes to order a charter compared to ordering an Uber or Lyft. However, the charter is completely free to students.
What we found: The UCF SGA does have a partnership with Uber called UCF Safe Rides where students can buy 50 percent off rides 8 p.m. - 3 a.m., Friday and Saturday nights. The rides are 50 percent off up to $10, and if trips are more than $10, it will be $5 off.
According to campus information from UCF, 68,571 students were enrolled for Fall 2018. At Ball State, the total enrollment for the same semester, including on- and off-campus enrollments of graduate and undergraduate students, was 21,884.
Helping on-campus residents apply for a grant to cover their laundry expenses
Why: Empower’s laundry grant program would give about 300 students who live on campus $10 for laundry, per semester. It would be first-come, first-serve.
What we found: Chris Wilkey, assistant director of Housing and Residence Life for marketing and communications and technology, said housing would be happy to act as a “pass through mechanism” for the slate, but said the slate has not talked with the Residence Hall Association.
Wilkey said Housing and Residence Life does not have the funding for this and that it would need to come from an outside source.
“Essentially, the issue is you can’t really just load up funds to Cardinal Cash because then students could use that for anything instead of just laundry. And that’s how our systems currently operate, is using Cardinal Cash. So there’s an issue with logistics and we don’t have that system in place,” Wilkey said.
SGA President Isaac Mitchell said he loves the idea, however, under the new finance policy, SGA cannot give money to students or to student organizations. Because of a lawsuit filed against Ball State regarding issues with this sort of funding, giving laundry grants directly to students would be impossible.
Collegiate readership program
Providing students with free, digital access to today’s most popular news sources
Why: Empower said it wants to enhance students’ “careers and knowledge” by providing free access of popular digital news services to 6,250 students on a first-come, first-serve basis
Woods said Empower budgeted about $25,000 for the program, and said they had been trying to work something out with publications they would like to have including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
The slate said it did not reach out to the library or other university officials.
What we found: Mitchell said the New York Times reached out to him about a subscription service like this. He said from his understanding when they contacted him last December, it would cost $15,000-$20,000 to give all students an online subscription.
However, Isaac said the SGA budget this year was cut tremendously. The 2017-18 OPTiC slate had a $101,000 budget. Amplify, this year’s slate, received a $72,000 budget.
“I would assume they would get about what I got,” Mitchell said about the budget for the upcoming slate.
Mitchell also said about $30,000 of the budget goes to salaries of SGA’s executive board, and said platform points that are expensive, such as the collegiate readership program, could potentially be almost half the budget.
John Lacheta, vice president of student initiatives at Butler University, said in an email the school removed print newspapers that were distributed through campus 18 months ago. Butler now offers subscription services to New York Times and Wall Street Journal to students and staff.
Lacheta said the program costs around $10,000 and he said the reception at the school has been positive. However, he said the slate should look into integrating this program into all divisions of the university with an interest, especially the library.
“Butler University currently provides subscriptions for about half of university faculty, staff, and students, which that number could differ at Ball State, however, outreach should be done to determine the appropriate number,” Lacheta said.
According to Butler University enrollment numbers, there were 5,489 students enrolled for Fall 2018.
“The money probably is not there unless they have some sort of deal,” Mitchell said.
University Libraries Dean Matthew Shaw said in an email the library “would need more information about the access, licensing, and technical models to decide whether or how the University Libraries should be involved."
The Daily News reached out to the New York Times to determine costs but was told to contact the university.
Student calculator rentals
Providing students with the opportunity to rent calculators
Why: Due to constant sharing, loss and the extra expenses, the slate said it wants to purchase several calculators and donate them to a department for rental.
Erin Byrne, secretarial candidate, said the Department of Mathematical Sciences does not rent out calculators.
Woods also said at an initial meeting with The Daily News that the slate budgeted out about $800 for 20 Ti-84 calculators and 20 others.
At the initial meeting, Empower said it did not contact Bracken Library to see if calculators would be rentable there, but Simmerman said at the Presidential Town Hall Debate that there were calculators to rent there, but only a few scientific calculators.
Simmerman said after the debate that to save money, SGA would probably purchase used calculators.
What we found: Currently, Bracken Library does rent out two calculators, both scientific, Ti-36 x models, and the Department of Mathematical Sciences does not rent out calculators.
On Amazon, new Ti-84 plus graphing calculators are $108.99, which if 20 are purchased, means the cost including shipping would be $2,372.80.
Used Ti-84 calculators on Amazon range between $67.99 and $89.95.
Universities Libraries Dean Matthew Shaw said the library would be able to add more calculators if they were donated to the library by SGA.
Continuing the conversation of reducing our use of plastics, particularly straws.
Why: Empower has the goal of beginning conversation of reducing the use of plastic on Ball State’s campus, with its focus primarily on plastic straws.
The slate said it wants this point to be inclusive, and will conduct research to provide to the university. It also said this research and discussion could serve as a “stepping stone” for further plastic reduction.
At the time of the initial meeting with The Daily News, the slate did not reach out to any officials, but said they would most likely talk to food services and dining halls to present their findings.
Empower said it does not believe it is realistic to achieve these goals by the end of term, but hope to see progress by 2024. The slate said past efforts have not succeeded due to lack of research.
What we found: Mitchell said the year he was in the senate working on the Community and Environment Committee, it passed legislation to ban plastic straws and then presented to Dining Services where it said would never get rid of plastic straws.
He said despite the research done to find the cheapest paper straws, the cost-effectiveness of buying the plastic straws in bulk was much more inexpensive compared to paper straws.
However, Mitchell said something like this could possibly happen, but seems unlikely.
“I hope they [Empower] change their focus on that,” Mitchell said.
DJ Cleveland, marketing and communications specialist for Dining Services, said Empower has not reached out to dining, but dining officials had conversations with SGA representatives on subjects like this in the past.
“Since we are dedicated to representing our entire student body, we have no intentions of removing plastic straws or lids from circulation in our dining venues, as doing so would negatively impact students and campus community members who need them for accessibility reasons,” Cleveland said.
Cleveland said dining encourages students to reduce their use of single-use plastics, and said dining would be happy to partner with SGA slates if the organizations is interested in providing reusable straws or lids.
Student grievance policy
Working to raise the allotted excused absences, giving appropriate time to grieve
Why: The slate said the current student bereavement policy at three days within 150 miles of the university is not enough time for students to grieve after the death of a loved one.
Simmerman said in order to make this change, they’ll probably have to sign legislation and work with the university to change the policy.
At the meeting, the slate said it did not contact any university officials about the point, and said it wants to gather a lot of student input.
What we found: According to current university policies, students can be excused from class for funeral leave, but it does not specify anything in terms of being excused from class. The amount of time to attend the funeral depends on the distance from Muncie, Indiana:
Three school days - Within 150-mile radius
Four school days - Between 150-300 mile radius
Five school days - Beyond 300-mile radius
Seven school days - Outside of North America
The policies also state that if a student is unable to attend the funeral service, they will be allowed three school days for bereavement. With proper documentation, instructors can excuse students from class and provide opportunities to earn equivalent credit for assignments missed.
Mitchell said SGA has no formal power to change the number of days allotted for student absences. The only thing SGA can do is to raise the topic to the administration.
“If they [Empower] win, they have a higher chance of getting in the room and being able to discuss why they believe something matters,” Mitchell said. “There’s nothing SGA can do other than that to actually enforce that.”
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Ro-Anne Royer Engle said in an email that an extension to the existing policy would be possible through the governance process.
“SGA as the student governing body may propose changes through the legislative branch,” Engle said. “The proposed resolution or bill would be subject to approval through the university’s governance process because the bereavement leave policy has academic implications.”
Mental health awareness
Improve awareness by attracting speakers to campus and revamp the SGA website for more links and resources for students
Why: To spread awareness and discussion, Empower wants to invite more mental health speakers to campus. The slate said this point would be easy to implement.
Woods said $6,000 of the budget would be set aside for speakers, and are hoping to invite at least two speakers, but there is no set number. The slate also said the one speaker that came invited by SGA was not enough to facilitate a full discussion of mental illness.
The slate said it had not reached out to the counseling center, but said they are sure they would be on board.
Empower also said Step In. Speak Up., an organization that aims to end sexual assault and sexual violence in the Ball State community, is too general and wants to facilitate more conversation.
What we found: Dr. William Betts, director of Counseling and Health Services, said in an email that though there are no speakers scheduled by the Counseling Center for the Spring semester, they may not be needed.
“The number of students seeking services at the Counseling Center has increased by 36% in the last 5 years and research consistently shows a high level of awareness about behavioral health issues among college students,” Betts said.
Mitchell said costs of this point could be high and very difficult.
“Time and money-wise, it’s certainly possible, but financially it’s very difficult,” Mitchell said. “The speaker [the current SGA] brought in, Joshua Rivedal, he was a very cost-effective speaker, and he was only $3,000 to pay him to come here. Most speakers are even more than that.”
Career choice objective
Optimize Ball State’s website for prospective students to see what jobs are available in their chosen major.
Why: Empower said Ball State’s website does not contain enough information to show what career fields a certain major could lead to for a student.
These options for possible careers would appear alongside majors that can be looked at on the general Ball State website. The slate said department websites would still stand as their own entities.
The slate said this would be a simple modification on the website and would cause less jumping around on majors if students have a better idea of career fields.
What we found: The Daily News reached out to the Career Center and Ball State University Foundation to determine feasibility.
DeAnna May, associate vice president of communications, connected with the Daily News, but were unable to procure any solid information on the platform point.
Childcare grant opportunity
Making funding available to full and part-time students to help pay for daycare or afterschool programs.
Why: SGA would give 10 $500 grants to 10 student parents for the semester. The grant could be used by anyone with dependents under 18-years-old. Empower said not much is being done for student parents and they need all the help they can get.
Empower said parents would need to provide information to prove their children exist, including birth certificates. Byrne also said the program could be modified as an essay contest to win the grants.
The slate said it understands $500 will not cover every single expense associated with taking care of a child, but it wants to help with any amount of money.
The point said the funding would be used to help pay for “daycare or afterschool programs,” Simmerman said at the meeting with the Daily News that they can’t decide where the money will go to, but that he also wants to make sure the money is being spent correctly.
What we found: Mitchell said this is similar to the laundry grant point, meaning SGA cannot directly give money to Ball State students.
“It’s against the rules of Ball State,” Mitchell said.
Jennifer Young, program director of the infant and toddler program, said childcare can be expensive and access to that care can be difficult to find. She said students juggling children and school are definitely in need of scholarships and grants.
“I think that money towards helping parents to pay for childcare would definitely be a help,” Young said.
SGA website revamp
Redesign the current SGA website in order to be more user-friendly and resourceful
Why: Empower said in order to reach out to more students, they want SGA to create an up-to-date, accessible website.
The slate said the website should be home base for student affairs, and also want to incorporate more social media use along with it, including posting SGA updates more often. It said no amount of the budget was allocated for the new website.
What we found: As of Feb.19, the current Ball State SGA is unaccessible. Mitchell said the website was taken down in agreement with the Office of Student Life to update it.
“Really making sure we get all the up-to-date information on senate, times, office hours and things like that on there,” Mitchell said.
Eli Sokeland, a sophomore web developer in Digital Corps, said a new website in the future without a web develop team would require a dedication of time from the members of the slate.
“Without using a site like Wordpress and Wix you have to build everything yourself. Which is fine if you know how to do it, but it always takes time of some sort,” Sokeland said.
Editor’s Note: Sokeland is a member of Byte, a Unified Media Lab organization.
Saturday stadium bus
Why: Elevate said it wanted to expand on the current Saturday shuttle service by adding a route to take students to and from Scheumann Stadium.
If paid for by the university, Elevate said it might be an orange or green loop bus, and if handled by SGA it would be a shuttle service similar to the one they use for the farmer’s market.
What we found: Elevate said it costs a flat rate of $187 for one day of shuttle service for the farmer’s market, which was three trips out and four trips back, but the rate might be cheaper for the Saturday stadium bus because the route would be shorter.
Elevate said it intends for these shuttles to run from 5-11 p.m., similar to that of Sunday’s bus service.
Sue Weller, director of Facilities Business Services and Transportation, said she is always willing to listen to suggestions.
“We’re always willing to look at our routes and our numbers and see if there’s anything we can do,” Weller said.
Mitchell said the “big thing” with this platform point was cost.
“When you rent a shuttle, you have to do it for at least three hours. And it costs like $32 an hour, so you have to go at least like a $100 in order to get a shuttle in the first place,” Mitchell said.
Additional Blue Loop bus
Why: Elevate wants to repurpose one of the red loop buses into an additional blue loop bus because it said having only one blue loop causes delays and inconveniences to students.
They said since it would repurpose a bus, they didn’t estimate any extra costs apart from paying for increased fuel consumption.
What we found: Weller said the original blue loop bus was planned to accommodate a large number of riders.
“We actually bought a bus that was a little bit larger to run the blue loop, because we knew we’re going to be picking up more students,” Weller said. “It’s a 10-minute route, so if somebody misses one, it’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
Weller said the main purpose of the red loop shuttles was to provide students who park in the far north and south lots a more accessible way to get to the center of campus. Taking that away would put more stress on the remaining red loop.
“Our main focus is getting students from the parking lots into the center of campus,” Weller said.
Mitchell said Amplify had thought about this point previously, but decided against it.
“We had thought about making that a platform point when I ran, and we decided not to, though, because in our talks with Sue Weller, we realized that she said it was highly unlikely,” Mitchell said.
Map app improvements
Why: Elevate said it would improve the Ball State University Campus Map App that Digital Corps developed. The app should be quicker and more accurate with high-speed usage, Elevate said.
The map app shows bus routes, parking buildings, dining locations and bathrooms, said Brandon Smith, director of the Academic Project Support Office at Digital Corps.
Elevate said times can show up incorrectly for bus routes on the app.
What we found: Digital Corps is willing to talk with Elevate about making the app faster overall, Smith said. Digital Corps works to update the app every one to two years, he said.
However, Smith said the bus route information on the app comes from another company, TransLoc Rider, and Digital Corps can’t change the way that data comes into the app.
Ball State hasn’t considered using any system other than TransLoc Rider, Weller said.
“The TransLoc system is a state-of-the-art system,” Weller said. “I don’t think there’s anything out there that’s better than TransLoc.”
Information about TransLoc Rider can be found on its app.
Meal and dining
Weekly meal allotment
Why: Currently, students with on-campus meal plans are allowed one meal swipe before 11 a.m. for $5.05 and two meal swipes after 11 a.m. for $8.60 each. Elevate wants this policy to change.
The slate said students should not be limited to when they are allowed to use their swipes, but rather that they should be able to use their meal swipes throughout the week, giving students a more flexible meal schedule.
Elevate does not expect a cost increase since most students are already on at least a 14-meal swipe plan, pay for every meal and often have swipes left over.
The slate’s members do not wish to pursue the rollover of unused meal swipes as the slate already believes that its proposed platform point is ambitious.
Elevate considers off-campus swipes unfair when compared to the current on-campus plan. Off-campus swipes can total up together and be used whenever the student pleases, while on-campus swipes are set to a strict schedule and are not eligible for grouping.
Because of this, Elevate would like to change the contract for on-campus students to allow them more leniency with their swipes.
This platform point coincides with Elevate’s desire to open a 24/7 convenience store for students.
What we found: DJ Cleveland, marketing and communications specialist with Ball State Dining, said it understands Elevate’s interest, but it would limit many of the options dining currently has for students.
Cleveland said there are a wide variety of student needs like the number of dining-created meals they want in a week, how to utilize their meal swipes and whether they want a prepared meal in one of the dining venues.
The amounts set aside for lunch and dinner meals versus breakfast meals are based upon nutritional values recommended and offerings for given meals, Cleveland said.
“We’ve taken student feedback and offered later times for breakfast meals as well as the opportunity to use lunch and dinner swipes concurrently, if desired,” Cleveland said. “We want to be good stewards for our students, and we feel that these suggestions would make it difficult to uphold that value.”
24/7 convenience store
Why: Elevate wants to open a 24/7 convenience store in one of the dining halls, giving students the option to shop for food at any hour of the day.
The slate wants one section of one dining hall on campus where students can buy non-perishable items at any time they desire. They have no plans to open anything new, but rather to change the hours of a convenience store that already exists to 24 hours.
Elevate has not decided on the location of this 24/7 convenience store, but would prefer for it to be centrally located, possibly in Woodworth or Noyer halls.
Students would only have access to the convenience store section and the only additional costs, Elevate said, would be to pay employees.
What we found: Cleveland said costs to operate an overnight store would be significant.
“In regards to opening late-night options, we are always having conversations about trends in student purchasing and needs across campus,” Cleveland said in his email. “While data does not currently support the need of an overnight option, we will continue to monitor if trends start pushing in that direction.”
Cleveland said beyond standard labor, other costs would include utilities, maintenance labor, tech-support labor, security and labor, communication costs, management costs, and so much more.
“However, this doesn’t mean there can’t be anything — it just means we have to think about it a little differently than the standard way to do things,” Cleveland said. “We’ve had some conversations in regards to possible ways to have extended offerings and we will continue to keep researching to determine if there is ever something that makes sense for our campus community.”
Green to-go containers
Why: Elevate wants to implement the use of green to-go containers in the dining halls. Currently, only one dining hall on campus offers biodegradable containers for free when an individual purchases food.
Elevate has contacted Dining Services about disposable, biodegradable containers and hopes to learn what material is used in their biodegradable containers upon getting a response.
The slate said despite SGA’s Green Action Team’s efforts toward this goal, they have not been effective in achieving anything.
Elevate said they will only know cost estimates when they receive more information on the proposal.
What we found: Cleveland said Dining Services was surprised that this was brought up, since it offers recyclable to-go containers in every unit across all of campus.
“In fact, we go so far as to offer to-go bags, cutlery, packaging, and napkins in all units that is completely recyclable,” Cleveland said. “There is one non-recyclable option that is in use in a single concept on campus, specifically to aid in portion control and reducing food waste, but the remainder are what most would define as ‘green.’”
“Key to social, economic, and environmental sustainability is using less across the board, and we want to encourage our campus community to take only what they need in each instance, even if those materials are recyclable,” Cleveland said.
Weekly social media updates
Why: Elevate said they want to post weekly updates on what SGA is doing. These updates will be informational in nature about their meetings and legislative decisions and differ from promotional material SGA currently posts on the account.
What we found: As of Feb. 19, 2019 the Ball State SGA account had 610 followers on Instagram, 2,204 followers on Twitter, and 1,300 likes on Facebook.
Since starting an Instagram account, Amplify has posted 16 times on its Instagram. These posts included the official response to the John Schnatter incident, shuttle schedules for home football games and promotional material involving SGA-sponsored events.
Monthly senate invite to outside organizations
Why: Elevate wants to give on-campus organizations a chance to have a voice and be seated in the gallery with SGA. SGA will yield the floor to these organizations for them to voice their concerns.
What we found: Maggie Lewis, vice president of the Women’s Soccer Club has been in contact regarding this platform point.
“In terms of senate invites, this is a platform point that a few of our girls were excited about, especially our politically interested players,” Lewis said.
For some outside organizations like Spectrum the invite coincides with the involvement of the senate already. The organization’s president Brooklyn Arizmendi saw the invite as a opportunity that was already being met through the representation of a senate member.
“We discussed this point; however [it] was previously not very relevant to Spectrum because we already have a senate member,” Arizmendi said. “But overall, we have communicated about our needs as part of the LGBTQ+ community on campus.”
Other organizations that have been contacted include the Transfer Student Association and Cardinal Kitchen.
Big entertainment at Emens
Why: Elevate said Ball State has had big entertainment in the past, giving the 2017 Jesse McCartney event as one example. They want SGA to have a voice in suggesting big-name entertainers.
The slate said SGA had previously provided discounted tickets for the Ball State football’s game against Notre Dame by purchasing tickets in bulk and selling them at a fraction of the cost.
Elevate explained that they would first reach out to potential entertainers. Once they have a list of “big entertainment” options they would create a survey asking students to pick a choice.
During Tuesday’s Presidential Town Hall Debate, Aiden Medellin, presidential candidate of Elevate, said the slate has allocated $5,000 for this platform point.
Elevate said they want to keep ticket prices to a cost of no more than $10.
What we found: Kristi Chambers, the assistant director of marketing and communications for Emens, said this would be costly and the total price differs depending on the type of event ranging “anywhere from $5,000 to $120,000.”
“Obviously, with those larger artists, it’s hard for us to put $100,000 in one show with no guarantee that we would make that back,” Chambers said.
She said the event featuring Jesse McCartney cost somewhere around $280,000 and was largely possible due to special funding from the university.
"Black Friday" bookstore event
Why: Elevate said this event would be hosted the week before Thanksgiving on campus and the hope is to offer students discounts on items both at TIS and the University Bookstore.
The slate said that the bookstore on campus is owned through Barnes and Noble, meaning hosting such a promotional event could be difficult and that the slate needs to negotiate prices with the on-campus bookstore and TIS College Bookstore.
What we found: General manager Pam Suminski confirmed TIS has received an email from the slate. The store currently hosts a Black Friday sale on the actual event, but since many students aren’t on campus the sale is not utilized by those consumers.
“It is something I would be interested in looking into. If a student organization is looking to do something and to organize an event we would be open to discuss,” Suminski said.
Peer mentor program
Why: Elevate said it wants a requirement that freshmen are mentored by upperclassmen regarding career and academic advice.
The slate wants the program to run alongside the KEY Careers program.
Freshmen are required to complete the KEY Careers program, according to Ball State’s website. The online experience is used during freshman orientation as a career tool “to connect the dots between your chosen major and your future career goals,” according to the website.
Elevate said the mentor program would give freshmen additional insight into what major or job they want. The slate said it was hoping upperclassmen mentors can be volunteers and department advisers could run the program.
Elevate said they would be meeting with Laura Helms, executive director of Academic Services and associate dean of University College, to speak about the platform point.
What we found: “I’m not comfortable talking about it until I talk to them,” Helms said when the Daily News contacted her. “Even then I will not have an opinion on what can or can’t be accomplished. That’s up to the slate.”
When asked if The Daily News could contact her later, Helms said, “No, I prefer you not.”
Helms said it wasn’t appropriate for her to comment on whether someone else’s plan is feasible.
Commuter LLC access
Why: Elevate wants to give off-campus students access to Living Learning Communities (LLC) in residence halls.
This platform point would give all students in a major access to the same LLC resources, Elevate said. For example, all students in a dancing major would be able to access dance studios in Schmidt/Wilson residence halls, Elevate said.
What we found: The point is “most likely not possible” to be achieved, Wilkey said.
LLCs offer on-campus students facilities for their majors, like dance studios for dance majors, said Chris Wilkey, assistant director of housing and residence life for marketing and communications and technology.
They also offer Academic Peer Mentors for majors of those in the LLC and major-specific programing.
“Students who are on campus… are actually paying for the living learning spaces,” Wilkey said. “There is a little bit of a difference between an academic building and a living learning community space.”
Wilkey said that students who live in LLC’s have extra resources as an “added perk.” However, most of these resources can be found in academic buildings, which all students have access to.
Expedite counseling sessions
Why: Elevate suggested hiring more counselors as a means of expediting counseling sessions at Ball State’s Counseling Center.
The slate said Ball State needs to hire better counselors as well and that the center has hired unqualified counselors in the past.
Elevate said this was going to be a legislation offering the counseling center this suggestion and that they don’t intend on financing the program themselves.
What we found: Elevate has already reached out to William Betts, director of Counseling and Health Services who will meet with him to discuss the feasibility of hiring more counselors to expedite the on-campus counseling process.
“Before we add any new positions, we would have to evaluate the need for additional positions. We would also need to make sure there is money available in the budget to pay for additional therapists,” Betts said.
Sexual assault monologue event
Why: Sexual Assault Monologues would be an SGA run event similar to Spectrum’s Queer Monologues, where students would lead an open discussion about their experiences with sexual assault.
In Tuesday’s Presidential Town Hall Debate, Medellin said a theater group called Busted Space “would love” to pair with the slate to put on performances to tell stories of the anonymous survivors of sexual assault.
SGA plans to have the event held on a public platform inviting even those who haven’t experienced sexual assault so they can learn about the experiences of survivors.
What we found: Abby Clifton, graduate assistant victim advocate, said in an email “The Office of Victim Services would love to form a partnership with any students working on these types of programs.”
“The office serves as a place for students to go after they have experienced sexual assault,” Clifton said. “We are there for support and giving out all options and resources available.”
Expanding gender-inclusive housing
Why: In an interview with The Daily News, Elevate said this point would not add to the number of spaces already available in the gender-inclusive housing pilot, but rather, it would make students more aware it’s available to them.
Elevate also said the cost for implementing this point would be conservative, estimated to be about $300.
What we found: Wilkey said in an email this point is feasible, and that out of the 60 spots reserved for the pilot, they are “not close to capacity.”
Wilkey said gender-inclusive housing is mentioned at freshman orientation and is featured on incoming students’ housing applications.
“I would honestly say that we are already doing this,” Wilkey said.
Conduct open forums to increase student input and campus awareness
Why: United wants to boost the number of open forums to get student input that they can incorporate into its platform.
“As only four people, there is no way the slate can be aware of everything on campus,” said James Schwer, United’s vice presidential candidate.
“I think the students know better than anybody about what is going on on this campus, what should be fixed, what should be addressed. We have some ideas on where we would like to get started, but past that we want to keep going and address what students want,” Schwer said.
What we found: Jim Hague, director of Student Life, said the Agenda Committee of SGA would be able to create space in the agenda to promote presentations, panels and open forums.
“It’s very possible. I don't believe that [feasibility] would be a real concern,” Hague said. “As long as they’re working with the respective senate and the Rules and Constitution and Agenda committees to get this set-up."
This semester, SGA held a Title IX panel where students voiced their concerns on changes proposed to Title IX.
Set aside time in senate meetings to allow students to voice their concerns to the senate
Why: United presidential candidate Jake Biller said the slate wants to give time in SGA meetings for students to voice concerns to the senate. He said the slate has talked to students who have encouraged United to do this.
Hague said that this would be doable.
“I don’t believe there’s been a regular use of that within SGA,” Hague said. “... Any slate would be within their authority to work with the Rules and Constitution Committee to incorporate that into the senate rules and then also into the actual agenda.”
What we found: SGA President Isaac Mitchell said he doesn’t think any previous slate has tried this, but Amplify had considered it as a platform point.
“I think [the] feasibility regarding them being able to do this is 100 percent,” Mitchell said. “But, they will have a tough job of convincing a student to walk over to the Student Center and talk about their issues.”
Miami University has already made time within their student government meetings to voice student concerns, and has legislation that could send a student’s concern to a specific committee.
Install more eco-friendly water stations and ice machines in the Recreation Center
Why: United wants to install more “eco-friendly” water stations and ice machines in the Recreation Center.
The slate said the costs of installing these eco-friendly ice and water stations are “fairly attainable” and hope to already use the existing water valves for the new machines. They also believe that having ice readily available will help with injuries.
United said they had spoke with Michelle Jones, coordinator of informal recreation and aquatics. The Daily News attempted to reach out to her, but never received a response.
What we found: An office assistant at the Recreation Center said over email after reaching out to the upper management of the center, “I have passed this message on to upper management and they wanted me to pass the message back to you to inform you that we are not looking for any new ice machines at this time.”
Install LED lights and solar panels on outdoor lighting fixtures
Why: United has a multi-step process for how it would implement this. First, it would switch the current lights on McKinley Avenue to LED, which would also have a solar panel attached to the light pole.
Later, if this proves effective, United said it will consider doing the same with lights along the Cow Path and in the Quad.
United estimates the project will cost approximately $250 per light post, not counting labor; however, by installing these lights, United believes that the university will save $414 per post.
What we found: In an email, Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management Jim Lowe said he had further questions about United’s cost analysis.
“Retrofitting the lights from high pressure sodium to LED alone will cost over $1,000 just for the fixture conversion kit,” Lowe said. “This does not include the labor to install the fixtures or the cost of the solar panel and the labor to install it.”
Campus and student safety
Initiate the dialogue for Residence Hall directors to be CPR/first aid certified
Why: United plans to start a dialogue to require all Ball State residence hall directors to be certified in CPR and first aid. CPR classes cost $90 at the Recreation Center, but United wants the training to be free for the directors.
What we found: Wilkey said he knows professional staff go through similar training, but he was not sure about resident assistants.
“I wouldn't say that's impossible, but I also don't know if they have something like that already or not in that process,” Wilkey said. “I haven't been through that training.”
Improve lighting for sidewalks on university walkways to allow for safer foot travel
Why: United said this point would be tangential to their outdoor LED lights platform point and would also help the University Police Department (UPD) patrol streets.
Cutting down some foliage and shrubbery in the way of walkways would be part of this point.
What we found: UPD Chief Jim Duckham said in an email nobody from any nominated slate has spoken to him about their platform points. He said he was not aware of any specific locations where lighting could help with patrol routes or where plants would be in the way.
However, Duckham said better lighting can “certainly” enhance safety and UPD “encourages students to travel in well-lit areas.”
Combat sexual assault on campus and in the Muncie community
Why: United said it intentionally left this platform point vague due to the complexity of the issue. It also said they wanted to include the Muncie community to account for students who do not live in dorms.
What we found: Mitchell said he’s wary of the lack of specificity.
“I love the intention,” Mitchell said. “But I wish they would be more specific.”
United has no funding allocated for the point at this time.
Extend hours and services for Charlie Charter
Why: United said it wants to extend the hours of Charlie Charter from 3 to 4 a.m. The slate said students who have to work the late shift may not get off work before 3 a.m.
Jones said they have spoken to students who work in the residence halls, and they said they don’t get off work until 3:30 a.m.
“With that being said, not having transportation at such an early time, like 3:30 in the morning, they have to walk back to their dorms,” Jones said.
What we found: “We are always evaluating our service to ensure we are providing for student needs, however, currently there is no plan to change the hours of Charlie’s Charter,” said Nicholas Capozzoli, parking services manager.
Introducing a 24/7 text-based therapy service
Why: United wants to institute a text-based therapy service called Talkspace, though they did not specify whether this service would replace WellTrack, Ball State’s current online mental health service.
Pricing for Talkspace’s services are on a ladder system, ranging from $196 per month to $316 per month.
What we found: Betts said giving students access to Talkspace through the university would involve vetting the service.
“Before adopting any new service, the university would need to ensure that the providers are appropriately credentialed and properly licensed to provide therapy in Indiana,” Betts said in an email. “We would also need to make sure that there are adequate safeguards in place so that students can access in-person services if the student is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else.”
Promoting technology resources to improve the first year experience
Why: Biller said the slate received several testimonials from freshmen who were struggling to find services. The slate wants to make a “streamlined list” for students to know where to access technology and other necessities.
The slate has also wants to make the Benny Link website more user-friendly for all students.
What we found: Hague said if any changes were to be made to the Benny Link website, it would be through the Office of Student Life, but they may work with student organization officers.
“Depending on what the change is, there may be costs,” Hague said. He said when it came to helping other student organizations with their social media accounts and advertising, there wouldn’t be any costs.
Hague said Student Life has never received any formal complaints over the Benny Link site to his knowledge.
“Even after the debates, I’m still left confused at exactly what they mean by promoting technology for first-year students,” Mitchell said. “I think cleaning out Benny Link is a good idea, but I’m not sure exactly how SGA is going to do that.”
Cultivate student success
Begin the discussion with faculty about allowing students to miss a class for career readiness fairs/events
Why: United wants to begin reaching out to administration to see if it is possible to have professors excuse students from classes to attend career development events, such as a job fair or seminar.
Jones said certain professors required him to go to professional development events.
“With the career fair being on a specific day and at a certain time, if it wasn’t a requirement of me from one class to go, I would not have had the chance to go,” Jones said.
Jones said this platform point will help upperclassmen so that can start to network with possible employers for jobs or internships.
United mentioned deans may be the best fit to decide what events would and would not be worthy of missing a class.
What we found: The Daily News reached out to multiple deans, but were unable to speak to the deans directly.
Ball State does not have a set attendance policy.
Offer opportunities to students for career development and professional competence
Why: United wants to create more opportunities for students to develop skills needed for a career.
Jones said this point along with the point of discussing career development with faculty builds student success.
“This includes resume building, this includes professional etiquette and these things that the career center offers, whether it be like interview prep or things like this,” Jones said.
What we found: Jim McAtee, director of the career center, said there is a lot going on at campus that students don’t know about.
“I think more is better. But I also think that there's a whole lot going on on campus right now that maybe not a lot of people know about,” McAtte said. “I think it might be important to make sure that the student body is fully aware of all the opportunities to engage, and then take a look at how do we do more.”
This story will be updated.
Sara Barker, Pauleina Brunnemer, Ayah Eid, Andrew Harp, John Lynch, Chase Martin, Charles Melton, Jacob Musselman, Rohith Rao, Liz Rieth, Taylor Smith and Evan Weaver contributed to this story.