Students protest Wichita State Student Body President Paige Hungate

“Temporarily stepping down is not going to happen.” — Paige Hungate, Student Body President

Evan Pflugradt | Sunflower Staff

Students have organized a protest outside of the Student Government Association offices demanding for Student Body President Paige Hungate to issue a statement of apology to former Student Body President Joseph Shepard and his family.

The list of demands calls for Hungate’s temporary dismissal as Student Body President until an investigation involving her parents concludes.

“Temporarily stepping down is not going to happen,” Hungate said, arriving to the protest after completing a final exam. “The investigation could take months.”

Brian Hayes
Sandra Carlo reads a list of demands of Student Body President Paige Hungate.

Hungate’s parents are involved as part of alleged battery and discriminatory hate “fighting words” that took place in an altercation with Shepard and his mother following a farewell speech delivered by Shepard at the end-of-the-year SGA banquet. Shepard is pressing charges against both Trent Hungate and Stacey Steffes-Sundquist for the alleged incident. 

Hungate said she will not sign the list of demands distributed to her by the student protesters today.

“I’m here to see a list of demands and hear you all out,” Hungate said. “I’m not going to sign anything today, but I’m here to hear you all out.”

Document presented to SGA President Hungate

The list of demands call for Hungate to complete diversity training, address former Student Body President Shepard and his family, and declare Black Lives Matter — a SGA resolution Hungate voted not in favor of in the 59th Session as a senator.

“You have more than enough time to make a decision on this,” a protester said.

Hungate said she will not address the alleged incident on her parents while the investigation is ongoing.

“I won’t be stepping down from my position,” she continued. “Nobody at the university can speak out about that while the investigation is ongoing.”

“You cannot be the face of this Association right now,” Sandra Carlo, a protester said.

“There is no conflict of interest with me serving as Student Body President. I was not directly involved in this incident. I was not involved.”

Hungate called for compassion, saying she has continued come to campus at times while she debated leaving Wichita State, and dropping out of college entirely.

“I’ll look through it,” Hungate continued, “I think a lot of these are good ideas. I will think about it. I’m here to listen. I hope me standing here shows I’m here, I’m trying to hear you out. I’m trying. I’m really trying.

“I want to understand the concerns you have and that your concerns are being addressed. I understand you want change.”

Carlo reminded Hungate that the protest group has no intentions of leaving the area until Hungate signed the document.

“We’re not going to leave until you’re stepping down,” said Taben Azad, former Student Body Vice President and protestor.

“I’m not stepping down,” Hungate said.

Taben Azad, former Student Body Vice President, said the protest group will not leave until Student Body President Hungate steps down from office or signs the list of demands.

“Then we’re not going to leave,” Azad said, adding that he said that she was not appropriately serving students.

“Where was everyone when Joseph was being attacked?” Azad said. “Every day we have to go through this oppression.”

“Joseph has been silence, and in all honesty Paige, you’ve received all kinds of attention, you’re getting things pushed through simply because you’re Paige,” Azad continued. “Recognize that privilege.”

Hungate said she could reach out to Shepard and offer her support to him. She could not speak on the alleged incident, however.

“You have a moral obligation to step down,” a protestor said.

“I’m not going to make a snap decision now,” Hungate said, expressing intent to go home and consider the list of demands.

“With the alleged incident that occurred, I can’t do somethings,” Hungate said. “I know I can accomplish this job and do this job effectively.

“I want to help, I want to make change.”

“Why do we have to push to be treated equally?” a protestor asked.

“You can take me for my word, I want to implement change and express these concerns that have been brought forward.

“You can take me for my word.”

Hungate said she will go home and mull over the ideas.

Matt Crow
Wichita State Student Body President Paige Hungate discusses with student protestors who have staged a sit-in outside the Student Government offices.

“I know I can accomplish this job,” she said. “I know I can.”

Hungate said she will contact her cabinet members to discuss the matter.

Protestors demanded a timeline to hold Hungate and her cabinet accountable.

“We’re here until you sign this,” Carlo added. “If not, we’re formally calling for your resignation.”

“Sure,” Hungate replied.

“I will follow through on the things I have promised to do,” Hungate added. “That’s the value of my word. I accomplish things I say I will do.”

“I can’t say I have a decision now,” Hungate said.

“To be honest, your word doesn’t have much weight,” a protestor said. “You haven’t shown much evidence for your capability to be president and address diversity problems.

“Remember, your word doesn’t have much weight right now.”

Hungate left the protest at 4:30 p.m.

“Thank you for your concerns, I am happy to listen,” Hungate finished with.