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Saturday, October 21, 2017

MSA campaigns focus on student fee accountability, redistribution

MSA presidential candidates present their platforms.

This is the third part in a series looking at the Missouri Students Association presidential slates and their platform positions. This article focuses on the candidates' positions on the issues surrounding student fees.

The MSA presidential election is Nov. 6 to Nov. 8.

Woods-Moon Eric Woods and Emily Moon plan to benefit students by giving them the information they need to understand where their student fees are going and what they are being used for.

“People know they have to pay fees but they don’t know what they do for them,” Wood said.

To educate students as to what their fees actually do, Woods said he would like to create a comprehensive student guide to student fees. This guide would give an explanation for where all their student fees go and how they are used.

“We could make it an online guide so it would be accessible to students,” Woods said.

The carryover MU experiences year to year would be looked at, Woods said. He said he wants to investigate options to avoid carryover by making a plan to spend what is left over in a way that would be good for students.

“I’d like to emphasize with MSA group leaders the importance of ‘need what you spend, spend what you need,’” Woods said.

Woods said he wants to help students get the best value of their money. He said he would like to set up a system for students to see how their money is being spent.

Woods said he would like to start looking into endowments for organizations so they could be used to provide supplements to the funding they already receive.

“We want to try making organizations like STRIPES self-sustaining, which would save students money in the long run,” Woods said.

Travis-Horan Josh Travis and Michelle Horan plan to reevaluate organization budgets in order to redistribute student fees as well as create a carry-over task force.

Travis and Horan do not want to raise student fees, if possible, Horan said.

The campaign plans to reevaluate organization budgets in order to redistribute student fees.

“Josh and Michelle would like to try to get more money for STRIPES,” Missouri Students Association Senate Speaker Evan Wood said. “They will be looking at the budget and looking to see what they can cut and what can be redistributed.”

The redistribution of student fees would filter more funding toward the programs that need it, Horan said.

“There are a lot of programs that need to grow and deserve more funding, like STRIPES and TigerWatch,” she said.

Travis tends to lean toward lowering student fees. He said he also plans to attend the Student Fee Review Committee as well as keep track of its progress and evaluate all fees the committee looks at, Wood said.

Travis and Horan also plan to create a carry-over task force made up of undergraduate students and MSA members, Horan said.

According to the platform, the task force will create a report for the President and Senate that includes suggestions on where money can be put to better use in order to reduce carryover amounts in the future.

“There are tons of places where we can reallocate and cut back,” Horan said.

Hansen-Oxenreider

During the first MSA presidential debate, Ben Hansen and Kaitlin Oxenreider mentioned looking into the possibility of making certain fees that are currently mandatory for all students, such as the Prepaid Health and Recreation Facility fees, optional for those who don’t plan to utilize the facilities.

One possible outcome of allowing students to opt out of certain fees would be an increase in the amount of money students who don’t opt out would have to pay, Hansen said.

“Although we mentioned the idea of making these fees optional, we have not spoken with all of the appropriate authorities regarding the use of these fees, so it would be unfit for us to make a stronger stance at this time,” Hansen said.

Hansen and Oxenreider plan to make sure student fees are spent appropriately by increasing the level of accountability within MSA through budget updates on the organizations website.

“I believe that transparency is very important for MSA, especially in light of the misconceptions mentioned in The Maneater's editorial regarding carryover,” Hansen said. “I also think that the breakdown of the Student Activity Fee needs to be more easily available for students so that they know what they are funding.”

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