Churchill County High School alumnus Garrett Kalt, a senior at Washington State University, was elected vice president of his top-tier research university this spring.
Kalt ran with his now incoming President Jordan Frost, the first non-Greek student body president in nine years and the first African-American president since 2009. The Frost/Kalt ticket ran on the platform “Changing the Conversation.”
At WSU, the former president and vice president of the associated students of WSU (ASWSU) surprise the new executives after the results are confirmed on election night and have a signed letter of transition.
Kalt and Frost had spent the day campaigning to garner as many votes as they could until 7 p.m. when the polls closed. Frost told the school newspaper, The Daily Evergreen, he had butterflies as they walked from campus in the snow and rain to Kalt’s fraternity house, Sigma Phi Epsilon — where they would thank and enjoy pizza with over 60 of their supporters, and await the news.
Kalt said the idea to run had started as a joke over dinner when a mutual friend suggested it after the ASWSU debate in 2016, but he shared with the school newspaper that the more they thought about it the more real it became.
“The excitement was palpable,” wrote Evergreen reporter Carmen Jaramillo about election night in the house’s living room called “the formal.”
The story continues that at about 8:30 p.m. a knock came. ASWSU Director of Diversity Victoria Wright walked through the door. False alarm.
Not long after though, cheers erupted when the two former executives jumped out from their hiding place and engulfed the two newcomers in a hug, Jaramillio reported.
“It was a really incredible and humbling process because just going through a campaign that was that long, it was definitely different than anything I’ve done before,” Kalt said. “It really made me focus on why I was doing what I was doing, and just enjoying the process, right?
“There’s definitely burn out, long nights. But I always come to the main reason of why am I doing this and why is this important to me?”
Kalt and Frost are tackling a master plan for their administration and aim never to lose focus of what they want to achieve and never stop reaching out to students and hearing their stories throughout the term.
The winning ticket is dialed into campus safety due the Greek moratorium in 2016 and increasing reports of sexual assaults, drug-related deaths and fatal collisions on drives to and from Pullman, WSU’s location. The executives are also striving for a universal sexual assault protocol for the entire university and a new position in their cabinet, campus safety — a full-time sexual assault prevention director and in charge of all new safety initiatives.
Kalt created several Senate resolutions addressing sexual assault on campus during his time as an ASWSU all-campus senator. He also noted a strong correlation between sexual assault, mental health and drug abuse on campus.
At a debate, Kalt shared about his own struggle with mental health when he was a sophomore. The Frost-Kalt administration has said they want to normalize the mental health discussion on campus.
“Representing and advocating for those people, especially those (who) don’t often have a voice,” Kalt said was his intention, adding his high-school student council team experience was also key and recalled wanting to help everyone be proud to be a Greenwave. “We really just want to do what we can to make sure everybody has the best collegiate experience they can and provide that representation.”
Frost-Kalt took the win in March by over 1,000 votes, a landslide victory earning them just under 70 percent of the vote. They were sworn in April 18. On their campaign website after the win, Kalt thanked his running mate and future president: “You inspire me every day. I cannot wait to make our vision for WSU a reality … it’s time to ‘Change the Conversation.’ Go Cougs!”
The Fallonite from afar is a full-time student studying strategic communication and political science. His interests lie law and in the PR field of politics, as he hopes to one day be a communicator in the political realm. He has also served as a student intern at the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service as well as a campus tour guide.
“A lot of motivation comes from wanting to make my hometown proud,” he said. “Growing up in Fallon is where I realized my passion lies at the crossroads of leadership and service. As I continue to learn and grow, I understand the importance of my upbringing. I am incredibly thankful for all my Fallon role models, mentors, friends and family. I wouldn’t be where I am today with out their unconditional support.
“Set your vision, set your goals,” he advised when asked what he would suggest to others planning their future. “And again, always come back to that why you’re doing that one thing.”
Washington State University’s The Daily Evergreen and Garrett Kalt contributed to this story.