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More for Less collects more than 6,000 letters, heads to Jefferson City

MSA and ASUM’s campaign against Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposed budget cuts will deliver the letters to the governor’s office Tuesday.

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Vice Chancellor Cathy Scroggs signs the 2000th "More for Less" campaign letter to the Missouri State Capital Feb. 7 at the MU Student Center.

Peter Yankowsky/Senior Staff Photographer

Feb. 14, 2012

Closing its five-day letter writing campaign Friday, "More for Less" walked away with 1,000 more letters than expected.

The letters, opposing the proposed budget cuts to higher education, were all signed by MU students and addressed to Missouri legislators.

“We bought 6,000 envelopes,” Missouri Students Association President Xavier Billingsley said. “We ran out of them.”

MSA and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri have been the backbone of the campaign. They are heading to Jefferson City to present the letters to the office of Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday.

MSA Director of Communications and former Maneater staffer Zach Toombs said the letter writing campaign greatly exceeded his expectations.

“Originally, the resolution (and) the whole idea started very modestly,” Toombs said. “We put the resolution before Senate just to put an official statement out there opposing the cuts, but the resolution also commissioned the letter writing campaign.”

Toombs said he originally only expected to gather a few hundred letters in the campaign, but "More For Less" has more than 6,000 letters to show legislators.

“I was actually very pleasantly surprised with the response that we saw from students,” he said. “Not only were a lot of students educated on the issue, they were very willing to take a few minutes and actually find their legislator. We (saw) such a good response we actually had people ask if they could come and work the table for us, just random people, not even MSA senators.”

Toombs, Billingsley, MSA Academic Affairs chairman Ben Levin, Chief of Staff and former Maneater staffer Steven Dickherber and ASUM representative Rachel Herndon are heading to the capital to hand deliver the letters as well as meet with several legislators.

"More for Less" will speak in support of Chancellor Brady Deaton, who is speaking on student funding at the Higher Education Committee hearing Tuesday.

"More for Less" organizers will also be delivering letters to Nixon’s office, though they are not meeting with Nixon. Toombs said they hope to meet with him March 6, the annual student lobby day. They are also speaking with Nixon's education liaison Michael Nietzel, Rep. Chris Kelly, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, Rep. Mary Still and House Speaker Steven Tilley.

“What we hope they get out of this is a sense of, 'OK, these people are really furious about this, and they real want to make a difference,'" Billingsley said.

Although the effort started small, Toombs said "More for Less" student support has given the movement some momentum.

“These are letters students have written to their legislators,” he said. “Legislators listen to their constituents more than anyone, and we have at least one letter for every state legislator in Missouri, every senator, every representative, so everyone is going to be getting some mail from students this week, telling them students think this is unacceptable, you need to stand up against this.”

If anything, Toombs said the campaign has highlighted issues with tuition and funding, as well as given students a way to be heard on those issues.

“I think students realized that, yes, the curators decide what our tuition is, but it starts at the state level," he said. "It starts with the amount of state funding the university receives.”

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