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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

Hower, Phan presidential campaign aims to increase outreach, retention through student connections

Student body vice presidential candidate Matthew Phan and presidential candidate Kylee Hower pose for a photo. Photo courtesy of Hower and Phan.

Wichita State’s speaker of the student senate is one candidate for student body president, and her ticket is making personal connections a priority.

Speaker Kylee Hower is running with Matthew Phan as her vice president.

During the 2022-2023 school year, Hower was an underserved senator in the Student Government Association (SGA). Phan served on the Freshman Leadership Council and is currently an engineering senator.

Hower said she is running for president to continue her work as speaker and to “uplift student voices.”

“I’m very passionate about advocacy and civic engagement, obviously, and I feel like being president is a great way to accomplish that,” Hower said.

Hower was elected speaker of the senate in May 2023 after the position was vacated following sexual harassment allegations against the former speaker. Hower said, as president, she would try to instill a culture of accountability and create a “positive, safe environment.”

“One of my biggest goals as speaker was to just make sure that the senators felt safe speaking on issues, felt safe in those spaces, and just kind of cultivating an inclusive environment in the senate,” Hower said. “Because without a diverse senate, you have a weak government.”

Outside of SGA, Hower is vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Alpha Phi fraternity and part of Student Ambassador Society and the Fairmount College Student Advisory Board.

Phan is the vice president of membership on the Community Service Board and the vice chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Matthew Phan, a Wichita State sophomore studying mechanical engineering, picks up trash along the river. Phan is the vice president of the Community Service Board at WSU. (Kristy Mace)

“I’m really looking forward to just talking to students down the hallway,” Phan said.

Hower said the ticket’s greatest strength is their “diversity.” She said she chose Phan as her vice president because they both see “very different sides of campus.”

“Because we’re involved in so many organizations and because we don’t have a lot of overlap with those organizations, we have a wider perspective on what students need,” Hower said.

The pair’s campaign has four goals: engagement, outreach, retention and sustainability.

Engagement and outreach

Phan said reaching out to students is a “core aspect” of the campaign. They have already scheduled meetings with student organizations.

Their planned initiatives include visiting first-year seminars, hosting town halls and posting SGA updates on a website.

Phan said it is important to reach out to recognized student organizations (RSOs) about their needs, “especially after what happened in appropriations this year.” Last fall, the Student Senate went through multiple rounds of allocations for RSOs after several organizations visited the Student Senate.

“It’s been really interesting to hear from the students, what they think their issues are and how we can actually respond to them,” Phan said.

Phan also aims to encourage more students to run for Student Senate positions. Special election results in January will change the make-up of senate seats and is estimated to cut the total seats to 50, in SGA’s upcoming session, aiming to increase competition and productivity within SGA.


The pair also plans to improve student retention at Wichita State. 

In 2022, the National Institute for Student Success reported that the university was 11 points below the 57-point national average regarding the retention of first-year students within a six-year graduation program year. 

In 2020, WSU’s fall retention rate was 71.9%. Nearly 30% of students didn’t return the next year. 

Hower said “identifying the problem” of why students leave is their focus.

Kylee Hower asks Vanessa Souriya-Mnirajd, the director of TRIO-Disability Support Services, a question during day one of the Student Fees Committee Hearings. Hower serves as the speaker of the senate for the Student Government Association.

The presidential candidate said she is currently talking with students to learn what they would like improved at WSU. The duo then aims to implement that feedback by working with student organizations and campus departments.

“We really want to just do what we can to bolster a positive

 student experience on campus that encourages students to keep coming back,” Hower said.

 Phan also emphasized developing relationships with students, both throughout the student body and within the senate.

“Making a personal connection with students and actually getting to know students one on one — if we can do that, more students are more likely to stay,” Phan said.


Hower said sustainability is a big priority for their campaign.

“We’d like to try and build a sustainability plan for the university that recommends ways to cut back waste,” Hower said. “Then we’d also like to do what we can to bolster and revamp the community garden.”

Within SGA, Hower plans to create a committee under SGA’s sustainability director to carry out those initiatives. She said a potential goal would include hosting a sustainability week to educate students.

Where to find them

Hower and Phan said, if elected, their doors would always be open, and they would encourage “an open dialogue” with students who have any concerns. 

“I feel like just having an open conversation and responding to those comments with positivity only is the best way to go about that,” Hower said.

More information on Hower and Phan’s campaign is available on their Instagram, @hower_phan67.

The presidential and vice presidential candidates will debate on March 20 and 25 at 6 p.m. in Rhatigan Student Center 233. The debates are also live-streamed on SGA’s YouTube

The election will be held from April 1-3 via ShockerSync. 

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About the Contributors
Courtney Brown
Courtney Brown, News Editor
Courtney Brown is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.
Kristy Mace
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.
Mia Hennen
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.

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