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Archive for Sunday, August 15, 1999

KU STUDENT LEADERS STRESS GREATER INVOLVEMENT

August 15, 1999

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New student leaders at Kansas University want to look at the big picture on campus.

Korb Maxwell and Dede Seibel are some fast talkers.

Ideas bubble out of the Kansas University students, the new head student honchos on campus.

Maxwell and Seibel, student body president and vice president respectively, say they hope to make KU a better place for students for years to come.

The university seniors who put together the YOU Coalition say they want to be the voices reminding administrators about student interests, issues and needs.

"We want to stress student involvement in the process again, re-energize the students," said Maxwell, whose hometown is Leawood.

Active on campus

Seibel served on the KU Student Senate for three years, Maxwell for one. Last year, Seibel was chair of the finance committee.

Maxwell has been actively involved in representing KU at the Statehouse. He interned for a representative his freshman and sophomore year, worked as the lobby coordinator for the Student Legislative Awareness Board, KU's lobbying arm, and last year served as the legislative director for that group.

With Maxwell focused on working with the Kansas Board of Regents and the Legislature, and Seibel on internal issues on campus, the two say they're a good team. The student senate plays two major roles, Maxwell explained.

"We take in student fees and distribute the money, and we're a student voice to the chancellor, city commission, Legislature and Board of Regents," he said.

They started putting their coalition together in October, working on their issues. Instead of picking campaign issues themselves, they surveyed more than 1,000 students about what they thought were the important issues on campus.

From talking to their peers at student organizations, living groups and on campus, the pair developed their campaign platform and learned that students are concerned about transportation, parking, safety, tuition and course retake policies.

The pair say they want to take a big-picture approach to campus issues.

Safety an example

That's clear with their ideas about campus safety, for example.

Instead of limiting campus safety to just the blue emergency phones that dot KU, for example, "Korb and I thought safety was a multi-faceted issue," Seibel said.

"We want to develop a safer sense of community," Seibel said.

They want to expand the campus' Safe Ride program, start a Safe Walk escort/patrol program, expand hours at buildings frequented by students at night and promote a movement toward community policing.

"We want to look at what are we going to do to make this campus a more safe place in 10 years," Maxwell said. "Too often it's been a Band-Aid approach."

Public transportation, technology and tuition are other major issues they hope to tackle.

Overall, the leaders look to a motto: "Leave the flame brighter than when you found it."

"We don't need to make massive changes," Maxwell said, "just little nudges in the right direction, fine-tuning."

Both Seibel, a political science major who was the president of her high school senior class in McPherson and who sat on the Senate Executive Committee last year, and Maxwell, who's studying political science and American studies, say they expect to work well beyond the 20 hours a week that are required in their new posts.

They've already been working more than 40 hours a week, Seibel said.

"I think it's fair to say it's more like 50 to 60 hours a week," Maxwell said.

"During the campaign, we never slept. We worked 22 hours a day."

He and Seibel will have an open-door policy. "Our job is to find out what the students want," Maxwell said. "Students always come first. Whatever work we're doing, that's put aside for student concerns."

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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