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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 body presidential candidates define platforms, qualifications at first debate

The first presidential debate for student body president and vice president gave students a chance to see the candidates’ opinions and their plans for office.

The debate, held in the Rhatigan Student Center on March 20, answered questions submitted by students via a Google form and taken from the audience. Throughout the debate, both groups discussed what their platforms would look like and the Student Government Association’s (SGA) relationship with the student body.

Kylee Hower is running for president with Matthew Phan as vice president. Hower currently serves as speaker of the senate, and Phan is an engineering senator.

Hower outlined their platform priorities and the inspiration for their dedication.

“We are running for student body president and vice president because we’re committed to cultivating a positive student experience on campus throughout the 67th session,” Hower said.

Hower said they would promote sustainable campus infrastructure, improve the culture within SGA, increase outreach to the students and support student organizations. 

On the other ticket, Aiden Powell is running for president with Diana Grajeda as his running mate. Powell is the director of student organizations for SGA. Grajeda is the director of leadership and engagement.

Powell outlined their platforms’ three key points: trust, vision and connection. 

“We want to continue the path that has been laid by the group by the current session while starting new initiatives to further improve the student experience,” Powell said. “And also (build) connections between SGA faculty and the student body.” 

Goals for office
Hower and Phan’s goals for office include diversifying SGA and increasing communication and outreach with student organizations. 

“For Student Government Association to be successful, you need to have representatives of every possible community on campus so that we can ensure that every student’s voice is being heard,” Hower said.

Phan added that SGA should directly reach out to students. 

Powell and Grajeda plan to foster collaboration between SGA and the student organizations and faculty. Grajeda said to do this, there needs to be a better relationship between SGA and the student body.

“My main focus within our campaign is building trust between SGA and the rest of campus,” Grajeda said. “One of the things we want to do is implement a forum that runs directly through the Senate, where students can submit their questions, concerns, feedback, requests — everything.”

What sets each ticket apart

Hower said their ticket’s main qualification is their involvement on campus. 

“We have so much experience, not just being in student organizations but being involved in leadership roles in the student organizations,” Hower said. “We know a lot of students on this campus, so I feel like we have wider outreach and a better perspective on the needs of the students and the struggles that they’re going through.“

Powell said one of the strengths of their ticket is previous executive branch experience. 

“Our ticket as a whole has experience in a lot of different avenues and different areas of the student government,” Powell said. “In my current position, I have met a lot of individuals and a lot of students in student organizations, and from there, I’ve been able to communicate with different groups on what they are lacking from SGA.”

Grajeda said she didn’t want to join other clubs because her focus was on SGA, but she still networks with people outside of the organization.

“When you join too many things, you can’t fully commit to them,” Grajeda said. “I wanted to give as much time as I could to SGA.”

Hower said sustainability sets their ticket apart from the current SGA session and her opponent. 

“I think that they (the current SGA session) did a fantastic job, but for a good chunk of their term, they didn’t have a sustainability director,” Hower said.

Hower and Phan plan to create a committee under the sustainability director that would be responsible for overseeing initiatives on campus. 


Sustainability was a subject that came up frequently in the debate.

Hower explained she and Phan would create a sustainability plan and specifically look into food and water waste.

“We want to walk into the residence halls, dining halls, like, hotspots on campus for waste production, and investigate ways that we can cut back on waste,“ Hower said.

Powell admitted that he lacks knowledge on sustainability.

“I want to be completely honest, sustainability is not one of my strong suits,” Powell said. 

He suggested increasing solar initiatives on campus and implementing them in Devlin Hall, Wallace Hall and The Flats. Two current solar sites on campus are The Smart Factory and the John Bardo Center.

The debate ended with closing statements in which the groups re-identified their main goals and expressed openness to hearing students’ questions and concerns.

The first SGA debate can be watched here

The last presidential debate will be on March 25 at 6 p.m. in RSC 233 and will be live-streamed on SGA’s YouTube

The election will be held April 1-3 via ShockerSync. For more information about candidates, check out the Sunflower’s profiles about the candidates: Hower/Phan, Powell/Grajeda

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About the Contributors
Taliyah Winn
Taliyah Winn, Assistant News Editor
Taliyah Winn is the assistant news editor for the Sunflower. She is a sophomore at WSU, double majoring in political science and journalism. In her spare time, Winn relaxes by drawing, weightlifting, and crocheting - usually while listening to music, YouTube videos, or Dungeons & Dragons podcasts. Winn uses she/her pronouns.
Garima Thapa
Garima Thapa, Photographer
Garima Thapa is a second-year photographer for The Sunflower.

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