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Sunday, September 24, 2017
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Live blog: Missouri Students Association presidential debate Feb. 18

Three Missouri Students Association slates took the stage in Bengal Lair at the second Board of Elections Commissioners Debate, hosted by The Maneater and BEC. Follow our live blog here for updates: 4:00: The BEC debate begins.

4:05 Presidential candidate Sean Earl announces his “Empower MU” campaign. “With all of the drama in the last few weeks, that’s not what MSA is about,” Earl said.

4:06: Presidential candidate Andrew Hutchinson introduces his platform. He says his platform hopes to expand the relationship between Columbia and MU. Vice presidential candidate Lydia Ghuman said she empathizes with students who have marginal identities.

4:07: Presidential candidate Clay Turner introduces his campaign, “Unite Mizzou.” Vice presidential candidate Sam Evans said he wants to increase communication.

4:09: Earl says that the best thing MSA can do is promote communication. He called for an MSA leadership summit and said that he wants to hold the administration accountable.

4:11: Hutchinson says that MSA needs to communicate more effectively with other campus organizations such as IFC and the Black Culture Center.

4:12: Turner says that last semester showed how powerful student votes can be. He says that MSA needs to reach all students and allow everyone’s voices to be heard.

4:14: Turner says that MSA needs to do a better job of reaching out to the organizations it works to represent. Ghuman says she thinks MSA has communication, but that MSA is in need of more transparency to increase their communication.

4:16: Turner says he has never been involved in MSA, but he brings a clean slate and new ideas. Evans says that communication and transparency is not the problem, but that the student body doesn’t have a good knowledge of the various communication channels.

4:17: Earl says he would like to promote communication and transparency by taking on projects that promote transparency, such as the student fee.

Question: Why do you think MSA is seen as exclusive?

4:20: Turner says that he is new to MSA and may be able to relate to students better.

4:22: Hutchinson brings up the fees enforced by the BEC during the election process. Ghuman says that the student government doesn’t represent all identities on campus.

4:24: Schafer says that she is able to balance MSA with two university jobs and an internship. “I make MSA a priority,” she said.

4:25: “For the people who are unable to make MSA a priority, it’s not really an option,” Hutchinson says.

Question: Will you be able to prioritize your duties as president and vice president?

4:26: Earl: “I have always held MSA in high regard.” He says he recently gave up a position with the Department of Residential Life to take on this campaign.

4:27: Hutchinson: I have dropped two classes (and) cut back on hours at work. It’s not necessarily about making MSA a priority; it’s about making the students a priority.

4:28: Turner: “I’m getting married in November. MSA would be a huge commitment for me. I can’t wait to make a difference here on campus.”

Question: What do you believe are the most important issues faced by new students?

4:30: Evans: “If it wasn’t for the dorms, I wouldn’t know anybody on campus.” He says we need new programs to specifically help new students.

4:30: Schafer: “I came from out of state and knew no one.” Schafer says that the communities within MU make it feel like home.

4:31 Hutchinson says MU should increase mental health services and reach out to the Columbia community. Ghuman says she wants to expand transfer student welcome and increase racial diversity in mental health services.

Question: As president and vice president, what would you do to show prospective students and alumni that MU is worthy of support?

4:33: Turner: “There were a lot of events that took place last fall and I don’t necessarily believe it was the events of last fall that have led to the drop in applications. It was the events of years previous.”

FACT CHECK: MU spokesman Christian Basi said MU has anticipated the decline in applications for several years, but that he “would be remiss in not saying this fall had an impact.”

4:35: Evans: “It takes time to heal wounds. I don’t think those donors will come right back.”

4:35: Earl: “We can take control of the narrative. I think a lot of times, the media took control.”

4:36: Schafer says MU started a movement across the nation and there are many positive things that students and donors can focus on.

4:37 Hutchinson: “The university needs to connect to Columbia as a whole. Investing in future Tigers is the way to enhance our narrative.” Ghuman: “On tour, there was a protest a few weeks ago. There was a group of tour guides who actually brought their tours by the protests to educate them.”

Question: Did you attend any of the protests last semester?

4:39: Schafer says she recognizes her white privilege. She says it was more important for her to speak out on the protests because of this.

4:40: Hutchinson says that “Concerned Student 1950 did a wonderful thing,” but he does not want to capitalize on his involvement with Concerned Student 1950.

4:41: Turner: “Our campaign platform is Unite Mizzou, and we have to unite everyone on this campus.” Evans: “Getting too close to an issue that you are not involved in can be dangerous. I was able to inform myself from outside the situation.”

Question: Should Melissa Click be fired, and should MSA have any say in the matter?

4:42: Hutchinson: “You have to place what happened with Melissa Click in context with how protests are dealt with on campus. The Maneater and other media did not do enough to discuss those issues. Melissa Click is being scapegoated, but MSA doesn’t need to take a stance on it.”

4:43: Turner: “I think that faculty members should be held at a higher standard than students.”

4:45: Schafer: “I do not believe that MSA should take a stance on this. I don’t believe the state legislature should use her as a poster child to cut Mizzou’s funding.”

4:46: Turner: “I appreciate that there are professors here who care that much about our students.”

Question: Does MSA work for the students? Why or why not?

4:46: Turner: “We’re not involved in MSA right now. We bring a new, clean slate to MSA.” Evans: MSA can pass legislation, but is it working the way it should?”

4:48: Earl: “To have the individuals in the last election represent all of MSA is very disappointing. I hope the time will come that they will apologize to the students.”

4:49: Hutchinson: “We had no intentions of running a month ago, but we decided to run because of the events we saw transpire in the last election cycle.”

4:50: Ghuman says MSA needs more communication and refinement of programs. “MSA has so many things that can work, but they don’t,” she says.

Question: Voting records show a large percentage of MSA resolutions pass unanimously. Does this speak to the quality of legislation or does it indicate MSA needs more internal dialogue?

4:51: Schafer says that a line of communication needs to be open to have more effective reform in the MSA bylaws.

4:52: Hutchinson says that there is a lack of diversity and voices in MSA. “If you are not involved heavily, you’re not entirely aware of what’s going on in MSA. It should not be unanimous all of the time.”

4:53: Evans says that there are a lot of career MSA senators and that “new blood” is needed in MSA. Turner: “At the last Senate meeting, if they had one more person leave, they couldn’t reach quorum.”

Question: How will you fight for inclusivity and marginalized students even if you don’t have a personal tie to the issue?

4:54: Hutchinson: “No one ever sees me and assumes I’m a Mexican-American.” Ghuman says Academic Retention Services needs “amplification” from MSA.

4:56: Turner: “It’s no secret me and Clay are white males. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about every student here.” He says that student-led diversity training needs to be implemented.

FACT CHECK: MU implemented a required diversity training for new students beginning this semester, led by faculty.

4:57: Earl says there are many identities on campus. “You can’t put everyone in the same mold because we’re not the all same person.”

Question: Should MU work with or fight the state legislature?

5:00: Evans says that cooperation is key. “They are a state legislature and we are a state university,” Turner says.

5:01: Schafer said MU needs to work with the legislature. “MSA needs to be in Jefferson City telling them what students think. We are the flagship university in Missouri.”

5:02: Ghuman says MU needs to bolster ASUM with its efforts in Jefferson City.

Question: As MSA’s president and vice president, would you support concealed carry on MU’s campus?

5:02: Hutchinson: “No. That’s ludicrous to me, and that would be my final thought as well.” He says that MSA needs to develop crisis plans for dealing with issues of this nature.

5:03: Turner disagrees and is in favor of concealed carry on campus as long as they “go through the proper steps of the concealed carry process.” Evans says he agrees with Turner and that MU students are adults.

5:05: Schafer says she’s not uncomfortable with guns, but she understands that students come from different backgrounds and experience levels with guns.

5:06: Earl says he would not feel safe if concealed carry was allowed on campus. He says it should ultimately be up to the student body.

5:06: Evans: “As adults at the university, you should be able to control yourself.”

5:07: Hutchinson recalls the events on campus last semester following anonymous threats made on Yik Yak. He says that’s not something I’m comfortable with if there were guns on campus.

Question: Are you going to the Black Lives Matter speaker event tonight?

5:08: All candidates except Turner say they are going to the event. Turner cites a prior commitment.

Question: How is MSA involvement in Jefferson City different from what ASUM already does?

5:09: Earl says that if we show up at the capitol with student advocates, the state legislature will have to listen.

5:10: Turner: “If I’m not going to Jefferson City on behalf of students, I’m not doing my job correctly.”

Question: In the Board of Curators’ search for a new president, what do you think the top three qualities a candidate should have and how would you advocate for those?

5:12: Evans says he thinks finding an experienced leader with enough ties is a key issue. Turner: “This university is in need of new ideas, especially since the events of last fall.”

5:13: Earl says that Tim Wolfe didn’t appear to know what he was doing and that the Board of Curators must speak with students.

5:15: Hutchinson: I would like them to come from a nonbusiness background. He said that graduate students should be paid more attention to by the Board of Curators.

Question: What is GPC and how will you work with them?

5:16: Schafer: GPC is the graduate student government. Earl says that GPC gives MSA 50 percent of its budget.

5:18: Hutchinson: “The people who have shaped my experience at Mizzou are grad workers, are TAs.”

5:19: Turner says that many graduate students are former MU undergrads. Evans says it is important for MSA to distinguish between their roles.

5:20: Ghuman: “It is important for us as undergrads to support graduate students as well.”

5:20: Turner says that his TAs helped him pass calculus and he doesn’t know how they do their jobs in the large lecture halls.

5:21: Schafer: It’s important to recognize that graduate students are working to unionize.

Question: What was the major failure of One Mizzou and how will you work to fix these issues?

5:22: Turner: “We didn’t take in everyone’s perspective. We are not the same, but we need to work together to succeed as a university.”

5:22: Schafer: “Just to clarify, One Mizzou is no longer a thing.” Says that the idea was taken by Mizzou Athletics and changed, and that MU “is beautiful because we’re all Tigers.”

FACT CHECK: Tori Schafer said One Mizzou was originally taken over by the athletic office. It was taken over as relief for victims of the hurricane in Joplin and then the slogan was used by the athletic office.

5:23: Earl: “One Mizzou represents everything that went wrong in the past and I think that is something that we should eliminate.”

5:23: Ghuman says the problem is that we are not One Mizzou and we do not all fit into one mold.

Question: Why do you think there is a lack of trust and communication between students and MUPD, and what would you hope to accomplish through open forums?

5:25: Hutchinson says there is an inherent fear of police among some undergraduate students. “We have to capitalize on this time for dialogue and open forums. He said we need to ‘humanize’ one another.” Ghuman said MUPD is severely understaffed.

5:27: Evans says he thinks open dialogue is important but that it can’t happen when there’s a negative image of the police. “Getting people in a mutual environment is necessary for repairing that image.”

5:27: Earl says that MUPD works closely with the residence halls. He goes on to say there is a difference between discrimination and accountability with police.

Question: How will you specifically plan and accomplish goals of working with RHA?

5:42: Turner said one of his initiatives will be starting an in-person diversity training program and working with RHA and the administration.

5:43: Evans says that it’s important to go into the dorms during the weekly meetings to be there in-person and have a student-led committee so people can actually take from real life experiences.

Question: Why did you decide to run in the special election instead of in previous ones?

5:44: Earl says that the benefit of running in the special election is that the time of change is now and “we can’t wait for other leaders to come into office.” Earl says that it was the right time to run and that Earl/Schafer is the only slate that offers the right experience for the student body.

5:45: Hutchinson says he didn’t want to be involved in MSA until what happened during last semester’s election season. “I realized that MSA functioned on an exclusivity basis.” He says it is disappointing that MSA has not reached out to marginalized communities.

CLARIFICATION: Alex Hutchinson said that MSA made no attempt to help out Concerned Student 1950. MSA was going to vote on a resolution to support them but the resolution was tabled due to safety threats on campus.

5:46: Ghuman says her motivation to run is in part due to what has happened on campus and that Hutchinson/Ghuman has the right mindset to make change on campus.

5:46: Turner says he ran to make a positive difference. He says MU students deserve better than what happened during the last election.

5:47: Evans says that Turner was going to run in the last election but Evans didn’t want to, so they ultimately decided not to run.

Question: How will you make sure students are aware of the mental health resources available on campus?

5:49: Hutchinson says MU’s counseling services are focused on the short term. He says there are many colleges around MU, such as Stephens, that are willing to offer longer counseling services through graduate students.

FACT CHECK: MU offers long-term individual counseling if it is suggested after the initial assessment appointment. The individual counseling is free of charge aside from student fees, which are paid with tuition.

5:50: Turner admits that he does not know much about the topic, but has a meeting next Wednesday with the director of the Wellness Center to learn more about available resources.

5:51: Schafer says mental health is an important part of their campaign and that she wants to advocate for student health.

5:53: Ghuman would focus on inclusivity and diversity and is helping Andrew with a perspective of diversity. She also says that Chuck Henson, the interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity, is trying to take social services out of Student Life.

Question: Have you been Safe Space trained or Green Dot trained? When and why do you feel that these training programs are important?

5:55: Hutchinson has not been Safe Space trained or Green Dot trained and says it is a personal regret of his that he has not.

5:56: Ghuman says she was Safe Spaced trained her freshman year. “It doesn't cover everything that students need to know, but it does start the conversation.”

5:57: Turner says that he has not been trained but is excited to get involved, continuing to say that he thinks it’s important for students to feel safe on campus. Evans says he has also not been trained, but wants to. “I don’t think that training is indicative of your mindset toward these issues,” he said.

Question: How do slates plan to rebuild, unite and empower MU through feminism?

5:58: Ghuman says feminism is intersectional and shows that liberating one group also liberates another. Hutchinson says he wants to “rebuild Mizzou” and aid students who are marginalized.

6:00: Evans: “I don’t know how to answer that question. I am not ashamed to not know something but I do work to understand something I don’t understand.”

6:01: Schafer says that Empower MU will be liberating for women. “I think it says a lot that in the last election, there was only woman sitting up here and now there are two,” she says. Earl says he wants to give women the power to speak for themselves.

Question: What will candidates do, if anything, to meet the demands of Concerned Student 1950?

6:02: Earl says that he has met with certain individuals from Concerned Student 1950 this week. He thinks a lot of people are relying on perception rather what Concerned Student 1950 is actually about and is excited to see where they are now. Schafer says MSA cannot be everyone at once. It is the job of MSA leaders to put the voice of Concerned Student 1950 into the student body and help spread it around campus.

6:03: Hutchinson says the MSA president needs to bring attention to diverse faculty. “Concerned Student 1950 did some amazing things last semester.” He says he wants to use the position of MSA president to bring attention to diversity issues.

6:05: Turner says “it takes real courage to do what they did last fall,” about Concerned Student 1950.

Question: If you are elected, what would be the first thing you would do in office?

6:05: Hutchinson says he would like to establish committees to further MSA’s relationship with communities that have been previously ignored by MSA in the past. Ghuman says a lot of organizations are limited by their budget, and she would like to learn how to help these organizations.

6:06: Turner says that he would put a cabinet together that has experts in all areas so they can interpret what students are saying because he is “just one person.” As president, Turner says the best thing he could do is be informed.

6:07: Evans says he would like to further his education on how MSA is run. He says he was not planning on running a few months ago. “Getting the details is how I would go forward.”

6:08: Earl says that his first step would be apologizing to the student body for a lack of communication from MSA.

Question: How will you work with STRIPES to reduce wait times without spending more money?

6:09: Earl said he has worked with STRIPES as secretary of auxiliaries. “STRIPES is at the forefront of MSA,” he said.

6:10: Ghuman says she would like to look into the possibility of reallocating funds and look into upgrading STRIPES’ navigation system.

6:12: Evans says his business background gives him a leg up in looking at different processes within STRIPES. Turner says he is looking forward to an endowment fund that is currently being discussed for STRIPES.

6:13: Earl says that STRIPES expanding their hours is really not feasible and that the organization has an endowment fund.

Question: All of the slates have said they would like to work with other student governments. What other organizations would you like to work with?

6:13: Turner says he would like to work closer with CAFNR.

6:14: Earl says all the student government organizations in the Student Center are key to solving the diversity problem on campus. He says he would also like get more gender identities to join STRIPES.

6:15: Ghuman says that MSA is prone to duplicating events and projects created by other organizations. She says he wants to focus on advocating for these events in MSA.

6:17: Schafer says MSA has not formed a strong enough connection with the athletics department.

Question: Define diversity and systemic oppression.

6:18: Earl says that MU has an inclusivity problem and that ignorance about the issues and failure to act goes against social justice itself.

6:19: “In being complacent in systemic oppression, you are in fact guilty of it,” Hutchinson says.

6:19: Evans says the problem with systemic oppression is that people do not know that systemic oppression is there. Turner says as MSA president, he cannot wait to learn more about the diverse groups on cabinet.

Question: Full Senate on Jan. 28, in which the previous president- and vice president-elect resigned, was seen as an example of division within MSA and a gap in trust and collaboration between the executive cabinet and Senate. How will you work to improve relations between the two bodies and collaborate on certain projects?

6:21: Hutchinson says that MSA was operating in an exclusionary way. “A big part of our platform is collaboration,” he says. He says he would like to work with the different auxiliaries and ensure everyone is staying up to date with one another.

6:22: Ghuman says that holding themselves accountable should help form relationships between the executive board and Senate. She says that so far, Exec’s involvement with Senate meetings have been sitting in the back row during the meeting and leaving right after.

6:23: Turner says he doesn’t know many MSA senators. He says he will be able to listen to all senators. Evans says he would like to bring other viewpoints into MSA.

6:24: Schafer says that she has a great friend group within MSA Senate, but those are the people she argues with the most. She says she has her own opinions but she’s also willing to listen to the senators.

6:25: Earl says the MSA leadership summit on his platform is specifically designed to address the lack of communication in MSA. “A lot of times Exec makes decisions, and Senate is kind of on the tail end of it,” he says.

6:25: Turner follows up by saying that he wants to make friends with the MSA senators and says that “meeting favorite people is one of my favorite things to do...You are a great group of people.

Question: What is your opinion on the failed library fee? Will you advocate to get the library more funding, and if so, how?

6:26: Evans says the student voice was well heard. He says he would like to re-open the discussion, but that the student voice is the most important thing.

6:27: Schafer was the liaison for the library fee and says that the library is not in the top four things the university wants to fund. She says that when comparing our library to Alabama’s, “ours doesn’t stand a chance.” “We want the best people working for our libraries,” she said.

6:28: Ghuman: “I don’t feel like that’s the students’ job to help with that.” She says that legislators should be responsible for increasing funding for MU. Hutchinson adds that a big part of their platform is advocating for marginalized identities on this campus and students need to have access to these resources to be able to hear from diverse voices.

CLARIFICATION: Hutchinson said that funding research should be the primary objective of the university. The library fee would not include funding research. The fee was proposed to improve the condition of the libraries and the salaries of those who work there.

6:29: “I wouldn’t say that you’re thrusting the fees in the students,” Schafer says. “It’s our job to protect the university.”

Question: A major need for any MSA president and vice president is the motivation to accomplish the goals set forth in your platforms. This can be lost during the course of your term due to multiple factors including pressure from administrators, personal issues and the stress of being a student on campus. That being said, what would motivate you to keep working in this position?

6:31: Earl: “For me personally, it’s just the interaction we have with the students.” He says the job is draining and MSA can’t do it all. He adds that they must rely on fellow students and administration to push initiatives forward.

6:32: Hutchinson says he had the privilege of growing up with a family that dealt with oppression but did not have to deal with it personally. He says he is going to make students feel more comfortable on campus whether he wins the election or not.

6:33: Turner: “I just fell in love with this university.” He says that he wouldn’t have the job he has now if it wasn’t for this university and that he wouldn't be marrying his best friend if it wasn’t for this university. He added that the students’ passion keeps him going.

6:34: Turner: “Don’t look at our experience, but look at our potential.” He says he has a passion for this university and help students succeed.

6:35: Evans says the need for effective and crucial leadership is the most important point and that his slate is the right choice for MU. He adds that whoever wins, MU will be in good hands because every slate has love for the university.

6:35: Earl says he thinks the debate was productive. “This vote is so crucial right now and we need educated and dedicated individuals to take office right now.”

6:37: Hutchinson thanks his campaign team, parents and all of the students who have stayed at the debate. Ghuman says that her slate hopes to not only utilize the organizations that already exist to help marginalized students at MU, but also to use the lesser known organizations as well.

6:38: The debate is over.

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