Candidates for 2008-09 WSGA president and vice president

Presidential and vice presidential candidates Whitney Philippi and Amy Billinger

Travis Perry

Perspective is a word that might aptly describe Whitney Philippi and Amy Billinger’s campaign to become the next Washburn Student Government Association president and vice president.

Philippi, a junior double-majoring in history and English, and Billinger, a junior history major, believe they have the fresh faces that WSGA needs to reconnect with students.

Touting Philippi’s experience as a WSGA senator and Billinger as a new perspective on the Washburn political scene, the duo is looking to roll up their sleeves and, as their slogan says, “revive the heart of Washburn.”

“I’ve really seen the difference I can make being on WSGA,” said Philippi. “I just feel that the ideas I can bring to the plate are the best ones out there.”

Heart of campus

Hanging their campaign on improving Mabee Library, the running mates have specifically voiced that they believe it to be the heart and soul of Washburn and that by tackling the challenges there, other issues WILL fall into place as well.

Helping to bridge the gap between traditional and non-traditional students alike, Philippi and Billinger view the library as a way to make changes that would affect the largest number of students possible.

“It’s the one place that students from any department can come and find common ground on,” said Billinger.

Philippi and Billinger continued by saying that while Mabee is one of the largest issues they have in their sights, they also believe it is connected to everything from Washburn’s recent falling enrollment to reconnecting with students.

“If a school doesn’t have a good library, then a lot of times [students] won’t come,” said Billinger.

The obvious improvements are easy to point out: more books, more computers and more space. What these campaigners are looking to do is a step beyond that. Following student suggestions collected by the library during the past few semesters, Philippi and Billinger hope to not only make it a place of common ground between all students but a place where people want to be. Doing that starts with changing the atmosphere, said Philippi. That change, Philippi explained, would mean new furniture, new d├ęcor and a new mentality for the university. Ultimately, Philippi said she would want to see a coffee shop in place in Mabee, if only for the sense of ambiance it creates.

“I think the difference between a coffee shop [in the library] and Ichabods [in the Corner Store] is the atmosphere,” said Philippi, who thinks their ultimate goal is to create an environment conducive to study, discussion and relaxation. “More than anything we want the library to have that coffeehouse atmosphere.”

Jumpstarting College Hill

Philippi and Billinger are not just campaigning for a stronger campus for current students. They want to make sure the legacy they create reverberates in future classes of Ichabods.

Voicing their concerns about the College Hill development, both candidates want to make sure Washburn students aren’t forgotten in the construction process. After a recent visit to the development area, Philippi has several concerns regarding the current state of construction.

“The way I saw it, buildings are going up, they’re not necessarily being filled with residents, and on the bottom level they have got these spaces for retail stores that aren’t being filled,” said Philippi.

She believes developers are not being completely realistic about their current situation and future goals.

“I don’t see anything happening without us communicating with the city council,” said Philippi.

More bucks in more places

Another goal Philippi and Billinger have is to give students more flexibility with their dining options in and around Washburn.

“Having lived in the [Living Learning Center], it does get a little old eating the same things,” said Philippi. “They [dining services] have already brought a couple of businesses in, and I’d like to see them keep doing that.”

While the concept of more choice within Memorial Union is an option to look into, an alternative brought up by the candidates is another cause for interest among students. As it may be difficult to bring in new businesses to the Union Market, Philippi and Billinger propose to make students’ Bod Bucks or meal plan money, currently exclusive to use on campus, available for use at local vendors surrounding Washburn. Not only would this give students flexibility to use their funds as best suits them, it would help reinvigorate local businesses such as World Cup and Varsity Blues and provide an additional incentive for retailers to move into currently vacant College Hill spaces.

Small classes, big plans

Some of the final goals of the hopeful candidates include active lobbying of administrators to keep class sizes small by hiring additional faculty. Billinger believes one of the main reasons students choose Washburn rather than other universities is because of the low student-to-professor ratio, and they aim to keep it that way. Additionally, the pair seeks to bring wireless Internet into the residence halls.

“That’s where [students] feel technology needs to be, and that ISS [Information and System Services] needs to catch up with them,” said Philippi.