Q-and-A with president-elect Stephen Bilas



By Kayla Phelps

Stephen Bilas, a business management and finance junior, will be the 2012-13 student body president, with Mary Katherine Kington as his vice president.

He became involved with Student Government his freshman year and has held several leadership positions on campus. Bilas discussed his goals for next year, his involvement on campus and his life outside of Student Government.

A: From a Student Government standpoint, I want to put together the right people in the right positions.

This will be my last year at UK and I want to make sure this administration leaves UK in the right hands. We can only do so much and we could do the greatest job, but if we leave it to people who are unprepared then that is all lost.

We want to see some sort of teacher accountability system in place, kind of like Rate My Professor, but credible. We want to match the intentions and expectations of teachers to the students. Not everybody operates in the same fashion in terms of scholastic achievement and some people have different expectations. It’s not an attempt to find the easiest classes, but to see who the best teachers are for my needs. We feel like a lot of administrations tried to implement this, but it wasn’t their main focus. It was kind of put on the back burner.

As for the Board of Trustees, I want to open the lines of communication so it’s not just me making decisions. I want to connect with other people in SG and other people who are interested.

I want to have an open-door policy because at the end of the day, I will have to make a vote and I want as much information so I can represent everyone instead of just one person.

A: It was a long, drawn out decision. It was always in the back of my mind. I remember sitting at freshman orientation in Memorial Hall and listening to the student body president talk. I went back and forth wondering if it is something I wanted to do.

When the decision came, I thought Mary Katherine Kington and I would do well. It’s not the two people at the top, but who they surround themselves with. I felt like I could put together a group of people, not just juniors and seniors, but new upcoming students who can hold higher positions and really benefit.

I am really passionate about serving others. You have to give up your life for a year, but I know the benefits of working hard for this position.

A: I am very involved in several other organizations. If you stay just in SG, you limit yourself. The important thing I stress to freshmen is you have to be involved. It doesn’t matter where or with who. Once you get involved, the campus turns into a tinier, home base of networks and you feel more at home.

I joined Sigma Chi and held several leadership roles, worked on DanceBlue corporate committee and helped raise record numbers. It was such a great feeling.

I started right away in SEAM — Scholars of Engineering and Management. It’s a great opportunity and great program to get involved on campus. It instilled in me the idea of getting involved.

I just like staying active. I played golf in high school and try to play as much as I can throughout the year. And no one can say no to Keeneland.

If there is an event on campus, I try my best to experience it. Now is the time to experience different things, so why waste it?

The only thing I dislike hearing people say is that they want to get their feet settled before getting involved. I am a junior and my feet aren’t settled. I am still a little nervous.

A: I couldn’t be happier with the new president and the work he has done.

I am excited to work on a higher level and on a regular basis with him. I have spoken to other universities and the willingness to cooperate with the president isn’t always there.

It’s interesting the amount he is going to be able to accomplish if given the opportunity. He already broke new ground for a new dorm in under a year. He works tirelessly to figure out ways to benefit students and has been a positive example to me.

He doesn’t have a hidden agenda, which is rare. He is very clear and thinks realistically and constructively. I am interested to see, going forward, how he interacts with certain things.

It’s a tough position to hold, especially in a year when UK is making a $20 million budget cut, with a $45 million deficit when he is trying to build.

At the same time, he is trying to break even but have the university play catch up. It is very difficult, and he is working tirelessly to make this place better. I will do my best to help him.