The incoming student body president at Kansas University wants to make a connection -- as much with university administrators and state officials as with his constituents.
Kevin Yoder is rolling.
He's swirling a blue pen around in his right hand and clicking the lid off and on. He has scribbled a complete outline on three pages of a new legal pad, and he's checking off each topic as he goes.
On the door of office 410 in the Kansas Union Student Senate bullpen, Yoder's name is printed on a piece of white paper, which is taped above the window. The nameplates are on the way, he said.
But Yoder, a fifth-year-senior-to-be who in April was elected student body president at Kansas University, is already talking like a man on a mission.
``I want to lead by example,'' said Yoder, who plans to attend every meeting he can between now and next May. ``I really want to do a good job of making this my life for the next year.''
KU Student Senate serves as a funding agency, allocating thousands of dollars to various cultural and other campus groups.
Generally, senators must remain keenly aware that their decisions affect students' everyday lives, he said, from funding for KU on Wheels and Saferide to the campus newspaper and radio station.
Equally important, he said, is senate's function as a watchdog.
``Student Senate is the one area where students have an outlet to speak to the administration and the Legislature and the Board of Regents,'' said Yoder, a native of Hutchinson.
To that end, Yoder and his vice president, Scott Kaiser, plan to immediately begin taking on their primary campaign platforms, including parking concerns, enrollment difficulties and ever-increasing tuition and fees.
Idea No. 1: Use the Lied Center's 700 or so parking spaces as a satellite parking lot for the main campus, with shuttles going back and forth all day. Charge students for a separate pass ($125), the amount of which would rival a regular parking and bus pass put together.
``It would allow us to use our existing resources to solve the problem,'' Yoder said. ``There are 700 spots that go unused each day. It's logical to just run a bus out there.''
Idea No. 2: Secure student spaces in the parking garage to be built next year north of the Kansas Union.
Idea No. 3: Put on the fast-track, improvements to the enrollment system that would move much of the finding-a-class insanity -- long lines, awkward times -- to the relative calm and easy access of the Internet.
``The administration needs to make it a priority,'' he said.
Idea No. 4: Fund KU's Saferide service to operate as early as 7 o'clock most evenings, and institute a campuswide system for escorting students home called ``Safewalk.''
Other safety-related proposals include improving access to blue emergency phones, increasing campus lighting and bolstering the presence of KU's police officers on Mount Oread.
``Crime isn't going to happen to most of us,'' Yoder said. ``But I don't want any students to have that fear.''
Yoder hopes to address the continuously rising ``fee-cost'' ratio, which measures the amount students pay in tuition and fees compared to the overall cost of education. The financial burden, he said, has increasingly fallen to students.
``I think right now KU students spend too much money (percentage-wise) on their education,'' Yoder said. ``I'd like to reverse that trend.''
One way to get the attention of the Legislature would be to send out regular newsletters touting the five best higher education proponents at the Statehouse, as well as the five worst.
``No one wants to have negative press,'' he said.
Yoder also expressed concern about the introduction of the new identification system at KU, known as the ``Smart Card.'' Student services such as bus passes may be temporarily thrown in turmoil by a lengthy or problematic transition.
The Yoder-Kaiser administration's other plans include: registering KU as an official member of the Chamber of Commerce, keeping track of and following up on previous student body presidents' agendas, and conducting an outreach program designed to connect student senators more readily to their constituents.
Vice president Kaiser, an Overland Park native, will be a junior this year. Yoder said part of the plan was to give Kaiser enough time to have the option of succeeding him.
Prior to election, Yoder's campus resume listed three years as a student senator, a summer as a new student orientation assistant, and stints as the president of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and of the KU's pre-law society. This year, Yoder will serve as the chief justice of the Interfraternity Council's judicial board.
-- Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.