Instead of celebrating a win in April 2019, Student Body Vice President Seth Wingerter celebrated the beginning of all the hard work that was to come during his term.
“It was kind of weird because we were running unopposed, so [winning the election] was much more of a kickoff to where we were ready to get started,” Wingerter said.
And despite being thrown several curveballs, Wingerter said, he is proud of all his administration was able to accomplish.
“We were in the face of adversity throughout the entirety of the year, but mostly the majority of the second semester,” Wingerter said. “There were multiple major crises, but we still stayed focused, and we were still able to put our noses down and continue to work for students.”
In one of his final roles as student body vice president, Wingerter was responsible for leading an emergency meeting to re-evaluate the student fee package. After the chancellor requested senators keep the student fee flat, Wingerter chaired a five-hour meeting in which the Senate body was able to come to an agreement on what the fee package for the 2020-2021 school year would look like, without raising the cost from 2019-2020.
Student senators held an emergency fee review meeting Tuesday to decrease the student fee package to $491.95.
“There was a lot done that last month, and I know it wasn’t easy, but that’s probably what I’m most proud of,” Wingerter said.
Aside from adjusting the fee package, Wingerter also co-authored a report for the University to address social mobility concerns after it was ranked fourth-to-last in its ability to recruit and retain Pell Grant-eligible students. Wingerter advocated for a later date for students to elect credit/no credit for their classes due to the effects of the new coronavirus on students’ learning environments.
As the University closed its campus in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Wingerter said there were many initiatives Senate planned that he wished could have come to fruition.
Women in STEMM Day, which was organized by Policy and Development Director Isabella Southwick, was canceled.
Wingerter and Chief of Staff Zach Thomason also discontinued their campaign initiative to expand the Ambler Student Fitness Recreation Center in an attempt to reduce the financial impacts students would face due to the coronavirus.
And a nearly $8 increase for Counseling and Psychological Services’ student fee had to be reduced slightly after the fee package was re-evaluated.
Looking back on Wingerter’s time as student body vice president, Thomason said Wingerter has proven to be a strong leader who was able to step up in times of crisis.
When impeachment proceedings for Thomason ended in the suspension from his role for 10 days, Wingerter stepped in to carry out Thomason’s duties.
“He proved to be a jack of all trades and all year was able to make hard decisions to lead students,” Thomason said. “When I had to step away from my role for a couple weeks, he moved into that role and was able to continue making those decisions for students.”
Although the year didn’t end as Wingerter would’ve hoped, he said he was able to develop a stronger sense of empathy while serving in his role.
“I’ve learned it’s much more effective when you look at things from other people’s perspectives,” Wingerter said. “All of a sudden, everyone becomes much easier to understand — it’s probably one of the most valuable things I’ve learned this year.”
As the 2020-2021 administration assumes their duties, Wingerter said he hopes senators will continue listening to student needs during the uncertainty of the pandemic and advocating for them accordingly.
“It’s going to be a rough time for the country as a whole, but also the University,” Wingerter said. “But everyone should be proud to be a Jayhawk during this. I know I am.”
Wingerter will be moving to Auburn, New York, to work for Andersons Trade Group learning how to grain merchandise. He will be traveling around the United States to different grain processing facilities.