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MSA executives wrap up terms in office

Billingsley and Kooi are training Droege and Beattie to continue their work.

Missouri Students Association President Xavier Billingsley speaks during a forum in the spring about MU's strategic plan. December is the last month of Billingsley's term.

Maneater File Photo
Cait Campbell/Graphic Designer

Nov. 27, 2012

The current Missouri Students Association cabinet’s term — one marked by a fight against higher education funding cuts, a newly created One Mizzou Week and a campaign to ban smoking on campus — is in its last month.

Though their terms are ending, the MSA executives are still working during their last month in office.

MSA President Xavier Billingsley said he and Vice President Helena Kooi are leading an online donation campaign called “Click to Donate,” which raises money to buy food for Tiger Pantry.

Billingsley and other executives are continuing to meet with Faculty Council to re-evaluate the current plus/minus grading system. Nick Droege and Zach Beattie, the MSA president-elect and vice president-elect, will have to continue that effort because it is unfinished, Billingsley said.

Billingsley said he also is meeting with Faculty Council to add a diversity course to the MU curriculum.

The MSA executives said they have been reflecting on the accomplishments of their term.

“I’ve been really fortunate, and the team around me has been nothing less than amazing,” Billingsley said. “They’ve really set the bar for those who are going to succeed them.”

One of the year’s highlights was the More for Less campaign, led by Legislative Advocacy Officer Steven Dickherber, Academic Affairs chairman Ben Levin and Director of Student Communications Zach Toombs. With help from MSA members, the three spearheaded the campaign to protest cuts in higher education funding from the state.

The campaign resulted in 6,000 letters sent to Gov. Jay Nixon, 150 students marching in Jefferson City and $100.2 million restored in higher education funding, according to Toombs and previous Maneater articles.

“I think we set a good precedent for the student body in future years,” Toombs said. “I think students, hopefully, are thinking on a bigger scale because of the lobbying effort, and I hope students realize they can have an impact on the state level.”

Proposed cuts in higher education funding will continue despite the success, Toombs said. He thinks the next cabinet members should keep their eyes on the issue.

“The success this spring is something that they’re going to have to repeat and maybe even top if they want to continue having a big student voice on the issue of higher education funding,” he said.

Another success during Billingsley and Kooi’s term was the first One Mizzou Week, which started as one of their campaign promises.

One Mizzou Week began with a reading by Maya Angelou, featured events led by diversity organizations and ended with a concert by Fun.

“Xavier delivered in spades on that one,” Toombs said. “It was exactly what it was intended to be.”

The upcoming smoking ban was another major mark of Billingsley and Kooi’s term.

“(The smoking ban) is something that previous MSA administrations, I think, thought they couldn’t have an impact on,” Toombs said.

2012 also brought the first Homecoming concert, which Kooi said was one of the most successful events hosted by MSA’s Department of Student Activities. Despite the cold weather, 6,000 people attended the Imagine Dragons concert, Kooi said.

Billingsley said he also had numerous other accomplishments during his term. Such accomplishments include creating Tiger Pantry, creating the Bike Share program, registering 5,000 students to vote, increasing event programming and balancing the MSA budget.

But Billingsley and Kooi’s term also had disappointments.

One such disappointment was Billinglsey and Kooi’s campaign goal to change the plus/minus grading system change to a flat grading system.

“We worked diligently on it all year, but, unfortunately, it’s not really (in) our control,” Kooi said.

She said she is confident the system will change in the near future but is disappointed she did not see a change during her and Billingsley’s term.

Another disappointment occurred when original DSA director Gavin Womack resigned.

“That was something we couldn’t really control,” Kooi said. “Having the people in your cabinet change (is) sort of a setback.”

Morgan Adrian took over the position at the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year.

Billingsley, along with other MSA executives, said the year has been great, but it is exciting to leave.

“After you’ve done all you can, you can just go on,” Billingsley said. “And it’s pretty exciting to leave this organization in better hands than ones you got it in.”

Kooi described the end of the year as “surreal.” She said she thinks Droege and Beattie will be just as successful.

Currently, Droege and Beattie are informally training with their predecessors and selecting their cabinet.

Both are knowledgeable about MSA, Droege having served on the MSA cabinet for two years and Beattie having served as an MSA senator on the budget committee.

“They already have so many good ideas and are in a better place than (Xavier and I) were at this time,” Kooi said. “It’s hard to say that they will do better than us, but they are, and they should.”

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