By. Meredith McCalmon
Candidates hope to improve recruitment, representation, career development and sustainability on campus.
Editor’s note: Sean Hoffmans and Bently Taulbert are one team of candidates running for student body president and vice president. We also reached out to Paige Vulgamore and Jack O’Malley, the other candidates in the running. We will cover their platforms in a future story.
Sean Hoffmans and Bently Taulbert announced their candidacy for student body president and vice president, respectively, Jan. 16. According to the K-State Student Governing Association, elections are Feb. 20 and 21 and voting takes place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hoffmans and Taulbert’s campaign platforms are possibility, accessibility, leadership and sustainability (PALS).
Isabel Chavez, junior in food science, said Hoffmans and Taulbert’s’ platforms set them apart from other candidates.
“One of those things [platforms] is possibility,” Chavez said. “That’s the thing that ... means the most to me. Pretty much their goal is to have a week-long [event where they] invite new students to campus. I feel like that’s just a great way to start off getting students involved ... but also to get the next generation of K-Staters comfortable on campus.”
Sean Hoffmans, student body president
Hoffmans, junior in organizational management and professional strategic selling, said he has experience in leadership roles.
“I started within my fraternity — with leadership — being the philanthropy chairman, and then going on to be the vice president of it my sophomore year,” Hoffmans said. “Halfway through last year I was selected to serve on the Governing Board of Directors for fraternities here at K-State, the Interfraternity Council. … The semester after that I was elected into the Student Senate for the College of Business.”
Hoffmans said the best part of his campaign was meeting a diverse group of people.
“The whole process has been eye-opening because of learning all these different backgrounds, all these different people and all their decisions they made, what led them to where they’re at in their lives here at K-State,” Hoffmans said.
One goal of Hoffmans and Taulbert’s time in office is to reengage student recruitment and retention, Hoffmans said.
“It makes coming to college in general a lot less scary for a 17, 18-year-old senior in high school when they get to sit down with a 19, 20-year-old freshman or sophomore in college,” Hoffmans said. “It’s a lot more beneficial for those students to have that interaction with people their age so they can feel at ease over the summer, going into August. … They know they have someone to reach out to. … We want more student engagement with how we think about getting more people to want to come to college in the first place.”
Hoffmans said another goal is to improve career development for K-State students.
“A lot of it is like developing leaders for tomorrow’s world, but also developing our undergraduates now so they are more prepared for the future,” Hoffmans said. “Either leader or non-leader within our community, it doesn’t matter. Everyone should have that career development that they need for what comes next after college.”
Taulbert said transparency between SGA and student organizations is important to him.
“There’s over 400 student organizations here on campus, big or small,” Hoffmans said. “There’s so much gray area with all the student leaders I’ve talked to. There’s so much misunderstanding and disconnect between understanding what needs to be done and what doesn’t need to be done. … We all fall under the same policies and we want to make it more transparent.”
Hoffmans said his and Taulbert’s campaign is ultimately “for the students.”
“I’m not going to go into office and start saying we need to make all these different changes until we are getting buy-in from students [and] having student support,” Hoffmans said. “When students buy in, that’s when the faculty buys in.”
Bently Taulbert, student body vice president
Bently Taulbert, junior in political science, said he will bring a unique perspective to the student body vice president position.
“Being a first-generation student, you hardly ever see people that don’t have college experience serving in these positions,” Taulbert said. “A lot of them are fourth-generation or sixth-generation Wildcats, which is cool and all, don’t get me wrong. It’s amazing to have people that are legacies, but the problem is whenever it becomes a machine of sorts.”
Taulbert said his “passion project” is to create a leadership council for other first-generation students.
“I think it’s really important for people that don’t have college experience to experience what it means to be a leader,” Taulbert said. “I think if you go to college and you get to have that leadership experience you’re going to feel a lot more bind with that university. That means you’re going to care more while you’re there. You’re going to care more when you’re an alumni. You’re going to care more when you have kids and hope they go to the school that you went to.”
Taulbert said he and Hoffmans come from very different backgrounds, which makes them the perfect pair to run for student body president and vice president.
“[Hoffmans] has a lot of the Greek knowledge, because the reality is a lot of our campus is centered around Greek life,” Taulbert said. “The greater reality is a lot of people aren’t in Greek life. … Him being a second-generation Wildcat from Topeka, Kansas, and being in SGA for this last year but predominantly in Greek life, and then me being a first-gen [student], never even thinking I’d get to the point where I’d run for any student body vice president or anything like that, it’s just so cool. … We think that there is a path for everyone here, and a lot of our position is facilitating those paths to make sure everyone has a great experience.”
Taulbert said students should recognize the importance of SGA to the university.
“It is crazy, during this campaign, how many people do not realize how crucial our student government is in every student’s life,” Taulbert said. “Most people don’t even know that every single school year they give about $400 to us and it goes into this pot of millions of dollars that we allocate. The university doesn’t have control over it. … This isn’t just like a symbolic position.”
Taulbert said one focus of his campaign is accessibility at K-State.
“What is student government and what is our job if we aren’t representing students?” Taulbert said. “Our biggest goals and what we could see is just a greater representation of students actually in student government, because the reality is we aren’t very representative of our student body. I’ve only seen a few people of color serve in our student government the time that I’ve been at K-State, even though they make up over 20% of our student body.”
Taulbert said to solve this issue, he and Hoffmans will create more roles within SGA.
“Of course, we want to create 10 new Senate seats,” Taulbert said. “That means creating a restructuring committee to look into what that would look like, to try to give multicultural students more representation.”
Taulbert said he and Hoffmans also hope to improve sustainability on campus.
“I think sustainability has negative connotations to a lot of people,” Taulbert said. “They think it means … we’re going to eliminate all plastics. It’s not like that, you know, it won’t be like that. As a land grant institution that cares about our community, I think that it’s easy for us, though, to focus on what we can do. Green spaces is an easy step, trying to push for more native plants being planted on our campus.”
Taulbert said he wants students to understand the difference they can make within the university.
“I think it’s really crucial that students realize the amount of shared governance a university has, and gives so much power to the students,” Taulbert said. “The day we forget about how much power they give to us and trust us with is the day that we start to lose that power.”