The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

Let’s settle this once and for all

Kelly Phelan, Kelly Phelan, and Kelly Phelan

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Photo illustration by Charlotte Etherton/Photo Editor

Days before the SGA re-election on Sept. 3, The Northerner interviewed both presidential candidates, Kevin Reynolds and Keith Kaseke. Their answers to these questions represent how they feel about Northern Kentucky University and the issues facing students.

What do you think is the most important issue facing NKU today?

Kevin Reynolds:
In his address to the faculty senate on Aug. 24, Dr. Votruba spoke to the fact that growth has been one of the central goals of the University for the past several years.

He went on to say that growth would no longer be the central focus, but would take a back seat to improving quality in every facet of the university. With NKU capping admissions, opening a brand-new Student Union, the Bank of Kentucky Center, and breaking ground on the new Center for the College of Informatics, it’s time to stop focusing on what we can build, and start focusing on what we can develop.

I believe that the ‘Student Experience’ is the most important issue to be addressed. What would improve the student experience inside the classroom? Outside the classroom? What can be done to help the total college experience more affordable for students ‘- ‘total college experience’ involving everything from parking prices, textbook prices, tuition, scholarships, meal plan prices, housing prices, student union prices’hellip;etc. Are there creative ways that we can ask our administration to look at in order to make some of these costs go down?

Improving a student’s experience here at Northern is what Student Government should be focusing on, because who knows what students need better than the students?

K. Keith Kaseke:
The key issue facing students today is the economic situation. There are not enough jobs on campus. Students are incurring debt through situations beyond their control: costs such as textbooks, housing and tuition.’

Kaseke/Chaney’s goal is to inspire students to take direct responsibility in lobbying the administration and the government to bring these costs under control and make it possible for a student who is dedicated to learning to go through a quality institution without loading up on the average $25,000 in student loans upon graduating.’ ‘

Why do you think you (and your running mate) would be the ‘best choice’ to represent NKU students?

KR: Leigha Phelps (VP candidate) and I are the best choice for this position because of the one thing that sets us a part from our competition: experience. We have the experience necessary to run an effective Student Government Association and properly represent the student body.

I have been a past member of the Student Government Executive Board as the Vice President of Student Involvement for the 2008-2009 academic year. Leigha has been on student government since she was a freshman and has served the student body in several different roles. She has been an SGA senator, a committee chair and has served on several university-wide committees such as the Student Code of Conduct committee.

We, unlike our competition, know what a fall semester looks like in student government. And with SGA already being months behind schedule, wouldn’t you want those students who know what to expect to be representing you? We think so.’

KK: We believe that we have a deep feeling and sense of the meaning of education and what students want and desire to see the university provide.’ NKU exists to serve the students.’ We want to see the growth of the university emphasized on academics above all.’

We will focus shaping the budget on emphasizing what NKU excels at– education, critical thinking and enabling students to reach their academic potential.’ This can only occur with up-to-date periodicals and journals in the library, increasing student employment and increasing the number of teaching faculty.

What issues do you plan to bring up should you be voted into office?

KR: International Student Scholarships. Our international students are hurting from tuition increases more than anyone, we need to do what we can to help them.’

Textbook prices. Can we put a cap on them? Can we create a textbook library that students can use to check textbooks out?’

Meal Plan transferability. There is a brand new director of Chartwells at NKU; lets’ get on the ball with talking about improving prices in the Student Union and can we get it to where students can use their meal plans in the Union.

Improving Campus Rec. facilities/funding? We started this last year, but let’s keep the efforts up. Campus Rec needs our support.’

Keeping NKU Green. Making syllabi online would help us save a lot of paper. Let’s support the faculty senate’s efforts to get students to take their student evaluations online.’

Improving teaching evaluations. Our administration uses the teaching evaluations for decisions of tenure, pay increases, and much more. Do you think that the questions asked on those evaluations are adequate? Leigha and I don’t.’

Improving NKU Pride. Why aren’t students going to the home games? Why don’t students stand when the fight song is played? Why don’t more students know the words to the fight song?

Supporting the Office of First-Year Programs in their efforts to help freshmen in their first semester. That office is one of the most important offices that the students come into contact with. Are they receiving enough support or recognition? Leigha and I don’t think so.’

Let’s talk about MyNKU. Tuition? Registration? Funding for Students’ organizations? And most importantly, we would bring up whatever issues the students brought forward. The E-Board of SGA is not responsible for making decisions for the student body, our job is to make decisions with the student body.’

KK: Our main focus will be easing the financial burden on struggling students and improving campus life and activities.’

Many students who don’t participate on campus or interact in class discussions do not do so because they don’t understand the importance of these interactions in their academic development, but because their minds are most likely focusing on financial issues.’ When students are worrying about loans, jobs, or how they will keep their cars from being repossessed they are distracted from the learning they are attempting to complete.’ By working to ease these pressures for students, we believe NKU can become a more lively and interesting campus.’

What are the three main points of your platform?

KR: Maintaining and Improving the NKU student experience ‘- (as discussed before) this involves the experience students have with NKU inside and outside of the classroom, from their freshmen orientation to the day they walk across the bridge into the Bank of Kentucky Center for graduation.

College affordability – tuition is not the only thing that makes financing a college career difficult. The Council of Post-Secondary Education sets tuition increases, not NKU, so we can’t help tuition going up. What we can do is look at all of the other items that students have to pay for. This could be anything from textbook prices, to meal plan prices, prices of the food in the Student Union, parking pass prices, housing prices. College affordability also forces us to ask questions like: Do we offer enough scholarships? What could be done to increase the number of students that receive some sort of financial aid? Could NKU increase the number of on-campus jobs available? We know what it’s like to be a broke college st
udent, because we are both living it with you.

The third platform is simple. We want to make SGA more transparent. I hope that more students attend SGA meetings. I hope that this newspaper runs an article about what student government is doing every week. I hope that we can get more students to vote in the election. I, honestly, hope we have to find a larger meeting room because so many students are coming to let their voices be heard. We want students to know when the senate will be voting on big issues. We want students to have the same information we have. Lets’ take the elitist attitude out of SGA and bring it back down to a branch of NKU that is honest and approachable and willing to ask the hard questions.’

KK: Our platform has been crafted with the goal of increasing the role of students in university policy making.’ By encouraging on and off-campus interaction between faculty and students, students will be more likely to engage the campus, faculty and staff in addressing broad university and societial issues.’

We also are striving to internationalize campus and faculty to broaden the educational perspective of the university.’ An internationalized campus will afford students a broad perspective otherwise unavailible in this region.’

Meal plans are another major concern for a great number of students who live on campus.’ SGA will be working extensively with the Resident Housing Association in crafting a better meal plan policy with meal transferability (between the Student Union and Commons options), more healthy options, and keeping prices affordable and flexible to meet the needs of students.

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Let’s settle this once and for all