As Truman’s Closet enters its third week of operation, the Missouri Students Association Senate is debating whether the program should be an auxiliary.
The debate raised contention among senators concerning what defines an auxiliary, and the process by which a new program should become one.
Truman’s Closet is a clothes lending and educational service offered in the same space as Tiger Pantry, and has been operating since Oct. 1 under the supervision of coordinator Kathleen Kowalsky and the program’s executive board. Legislation has already been proposed to senate that, if passed, would grant Truman’s Closet auxiliary status.
Secretary of Auxiliaries Sandy Patel said that the Department of Student Services is not the place for Truman’s Closet to remain in the future, describing the ordinary role of the department in the past.
“The Department of Student Services is known (for its) byline in the budget called ‘new student services’ (which is) used for pet projects and startup fees that go to these student services,” Patel said. “However, it’s not the real home for them.”
Responding to criticism that Truman’s Closet has not sought a home in other organizations on campus, Patel said that there is no better place for this type of project than the MSA.
“With MSA being the largest organization that provides all of these different types of student services (with) a better audience (and) outreach, it (is) able to promote Truman’s Closet better than if it were homed anywhere else,” Patel said.
Operations Committee chairman Benjamin Bolin disagreed with this sentiment and said that Truman’s Closet is not ready to become independent as an auxiliary and should remain under DSS.
“The biggest thing is I think there ought to be standards for auxiliaries,” Bolin said. “One of those standards ought to be time.”
Bolin said he “loves Truman’s Closet for what it does, and what it will do,” but worries that it will fall victim to common startup hurdles.
“I want to see some written documents on a four-year plan, a budget, a mission, how they’re going to replace themselves as a board,” Bolin said. “… I don’t want us to just rubber-stamp it without any questions.”
Bolin suggests that MSA might be able to overcome this ambiguity when deciding the auxiliary status of new programs with a more thorough screening process.
“The idea right now is that it would go through budget committee, and have to be approved before it could use the resources of MSA,” Bolin said. “From there they would have to get approval from the vice president and Farouk Aregbe … It’s like a cupcake and the icing. Let’s get the cake part perfect, and make sure that everything has been double checked … When they come through those doors and say ‘We want to become an auxiliary,’ … (Senate has) heard the speech, and they already have the most kick-butt speech ever on four year plan, budget, (and) mission.”
Associated Students of the University of Missouri President Ben Levin said he is concerned that failing to make Truman’s Closet an auxiliary will have adverse effects on future administrations and students seeking to create new projects, which are generally incepted in the DSS.
“I’m afraid that if we keep Truman’s Closet under DSS that a new director next year or the year after that or at some point will come in and have their own ideas for projects and their own priorities, and Truman’s Closet will not get the attention that is deserves,” Levin said.
Patel echoed these concerns, saying that Truman’s Closet will have greater stability if senate approves it for auxiliary status. She also said that a uniform process for selecting auxiliaries would be welcomed in a perfect world, but that the variable nature of auxiliaries, and how different they are from one another, makes it difficult to achieve.
“(Truman’s Closet) would have the possibility of falling through the cracks,” Patel said. “You just have to make sure the right people are handling it. But in order for it to have a good direction you have to have location and security established … I don’t want it to be a constant worry.”