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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Student Government executive branch applicants denied interviews, disclose application process

Former Student Government Association senators have raised concerns about the application process for Executive Branch positions.
Wren Johnson

Doctoral student Balaji Kartikeyan served as a graduate senator in the Student Government Association for two years before deciding to leave the Senate this past January. While the reason Kartikeyan gave for his departure is multifaceted, he said the environment and being “overlooked” for job positions largely contributed to his leave.

“It was just not a very conducive atmosphere for somebody who is (quote unquote an) outsider, so I had to take myself off of it,” Kartikeyan said.

Throughout his sessions in the Senate, Kartikeyan applied for multiple higher positions in SGA. In the current administration with Student Body President Iris Okere and Vice President Sophie Martins, he applied for the student body treasurer and international student affairs director, both being paid positions.

Kartikeyan said he did not get an interview for either position, only a response from the administration saying they decided to go with someone else. 

Vishnu Avva said he experienced a similar situation. After becoming an at-large senator in the fall of 2022, Avva applied for legislative and policy affairs director under the Okere-Martins administration, a paid position in the executive branch of SGA.

“I really got no response from administration at all,” Avva said.

According to the Rules and Regulations of the Association for the (current) 66th session of student government, “the President shall nominate the most qualified applicant for the position based on the applicant’s application and interview and shall present the nominee to the Senate.”

When asked what the process looks like for applicants, Okere said, “Everyone that got a position got an interview.”

“We looked at all of the applications,” Okere said. “For some positions, they were already filled by the time … the person had applied.”

According to SGA’s Facebook, Okere and Martins’ administration applications opened on April 10. The post said that applications “are accepted on a rolling basis until the positions are filled.”

Kartikeyan and Avva expressed frustration with this process, as both applicants felt they had experience that would qualify them for the jobs.

Avva said he felt uniquely qualified for the position of legislative and policy affairs director, as it deals with state politics and he has experience in state politics, including two internships in the state and country capitol. He applied two days after the applications opened.

“I never even got interviewed, and someone already got a spot,” Avva said. 

Kartikeyan said he has experience working on various committees, such as student fees and budget and finance. He also has taken part in the appropriations process of student government. He applied on the day applications opened.

The positions both former senators applied for were all paid, which contributed to their concerns. 

Three years ago, SGA did a study to evaluate compensation guidelines for paid roles, according to Gabriel Fonseca, who helps advise student government. Fonseca said, generally, the rule is that any leadership role that holds office hours is compensated by SGA. 

Fonseca said the paid amount correlates to the hours worked. Each position is compensated at $12 an hour, but hours worked range from 10-30 hours per week.

“The thing that kind of upset me the most about the entire process is that it is technically a job,” Avva said. “So the process has to be by the book. You got to interview everyone, and actually take it into account because people are getting paid for it.”

Okere said those who applied and didn’t get an interview were emailed to say someone else was chosen.

Okere said that declining to interview certain applicants isn’t necessarily a rejection but an “I’ll see you later.” 

“It was more of ‘how else do you want to get involved?’” Okere said. “‘This might not be the position for you, but how else can you get involved with the student government?’”

Okere pointed to SGA’s finance commission, which has seats left, as well as the numerous open seats in the Senate. These open positions are unpaid.

“I guess that’s what I keep on going back to is money,” Avva said.

Avva also noted previous concerns about Okere appointing Vice President Sophie Martins’ partner Kyan Caudillo to the position of director of health and wellness.

Avva said whether the appointed people “may or may not deserve it,” it looks like friends appointing friends.

“I can’t say (the people who were appointed) didn’t deserve it, but more they should go through the right avenue,” Avva said.

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About the Contributors
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing. Hennen uses they/them pronouns.
Wren Johnson, Illustrator/Designer
Wren Johnson is an illustrator for The Sunflower. Johnson is a third-year Communications major that loves chickens. In her free time she likes to read, draw, and hang out with friends. Johnson uses she/her pronouns.

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  • C

    Concerned StudentAug 30, 2023 at 11:01 pm

    Time to resign!

  • V

    VishnuAug 30, 2023 at 7:56 pm

    I’d like to thank the Sunflower for helping tell this story to the student body and community.