March 9, 2017
Student from Overland Park to serve as student body president; Wichita student to serve as vice president
Kansas State University students have elected Jack Ayres, junior in chemical engineering, Overland Park, as student body president.
His running mate, Olivia Baalman, junior in computer science, Wichita, will serve as student body vice president.
Ayres and Baalman will take office in the Student Governing Association on April 7, when they will begin to advocate for the three themes of their campaign: "Your Degree, Your Campus, Your Voice."
Ayres is currently speaker of the student senate for the SGA and was previously the SGA's vice-chair of student engagement and chair of the Special Committee on Membership. Baalman is SGA's health and safety director.
"Throughout our time in SGA, Olivia and I have had the opportunity to work and develop relationships with both students and administrators on campus," Ayres said. "Through these experiences, we have built connections with those who can affect change at K-State, and we look forward to working with those individuals to accomplish all of our goals."
Their goals for the "Your Degree" theme include improving students' academic advising experience by making the Degree Audit Reporting System more user-friendly, and promoting and supporting intentional initiatives to improve retention rates.
To fulfill the second tenet of their campaign, the pair said they plan to promote administrative transparency and accountability on progress on the Multicultural Student Center; unify efforts around the food pantry that is being developed to mitigate food insecurity on campus; and establish transportation assistance on game days, including GPS tracking of ATA buses on the K-State App and creating a drop-off lane for ride-sharing in the parking lot of Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
To empower students' voices on campus, Ayres and Baalman said their plans include:
• Publishing agendas for their meetings with administrators and allowing students to contribute to those agendas.
• Hosting student petitions on SGA's website.
• Expanding K-State's consolidated reporting system to include a reporting form for facilities and a form that goes directly to SGA.
• Establishing student body president and vice president office hours.
Ayres and Baalman said all of these initiatives are in response to needs of and requests from students.
"K-State prides itself on putting students first and always improving, and we look forward to contributing to that focus," Ayres said. "Student voices are valued at K-State, and Olivia and I can't wait to serve students as stewards of their voice."
Ayres is a Kansas State University Presidential Scholar and was a member of the Quest Freshman Honorary, Tau Beta Pi and Omega Chi Epsilon. A member of the Student Alumni Board and Delta Chi fraternity, Ayres received the Office of Greek Affairs' New Member of the Year award in 2015. He is a volunteer Spanish-English interpreter for the Duchesne Clinic in Kansas City, and he is a member of the praise and worship band at Valley View United Methodist Church in Overland Park.
Baalman has received the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Scholarship and the KSU Foundation Scholarship. A member of Chi Omega sorority, she was a member of the sorority's executive board and she was a member of the Kansas State Presidential Search Committee and Women in Engineering. She was an undergraduate lab teaching assistant and has served as a Make-a-Wish volunteer. Her freshman year, she was a member of the Knowledge Discovery in Databases research group under William Hsu, associate professor of computer science.
"The K-State community is one like no other," Baalman said. "This place has given me a home when I needed it and a network of well-versed leaders, and it has challenged me to grow. I want to give back to this community by serving the student body."
Ayres, a graduate of Blue Valley Southwest High School, is the son of Mike and Suzy Ayres. Baalman, a graduate of Maize High School, is the daughter of Sarah Baalman and Matt Gardner.