Missouri Students Association presidential candidate Zac Sweets said he thinks this presidential election is different.
“It’s different not necessarily because of the issues, but because of the people that are running,” Sweets said.
Amidst excitement for the upcoming MSA presidential debates and overall election, there is a force making the slates have tangible platforms and ideas for the student body, Sweets said.
Sweets, who is running with junior Zack Folk, said he and his running mate have focused on practicality, creating ideas and projects that can be done.
The slate’s pragmatic approach to their platform is shown in their overarching slogan, “Moving MSA Forward.” It’s a theme ensuring voters the slate is running for tomorrow’s students while continuing MSA’s expansion, Sweets said.
Before Sweets and Folk announced their candidacy, each was involved in MSA. Sweets was a senator serving on both the Campus and Community Relations Committee and Operations Committee while Folk served on the Budget Committee.
Sweets also served as MSA Outreach Committee chairman and is president of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Folk was the Residence Halls Association president last year, a role that required a considerable amount of communication and outreach, Folk said.
“I’ve had that experience leading a student-run organization and understanding how to connect with students,” Folk said.
Outreach and the slate’s experience associated with it led them to make outreach one of three points they focus on in their platform.
Through conversations in previous leadership roles, the slate said they noticed that there is a clear governing aspect to MSA that could use improvement — not governing over everybody else but governing on an operational level that oversees relationships between MSA and other campus organizations, Sweets said.
One component to outreach is reviving the Student Leader Advisory Council or building something similar. This is the same council responsible for deciding what would be in the MU Student Center and getting air conditioning in the residence halls, Sweets said.
“What it would be is not only a way for MSA to network out to everybody in this committee, but it would be a way for everybody in this committee to network to each other,” Folk said.
Through meetings with Mark Lucas, the director of Student Life, and Janna Basler, the assistant director of Greek Life and Leadership, the idea formed, Sweets said. Before the slate decided to run, Folk hammered out a proposal for the rebuilding of SLAC that Basler thought could work, Sweets said.
Enhancing relationships is at the core of the slate’s emphasis on outreach. Other ideas include using the MSA Outreach committee to act as a group of ambassadors, establishing a diversity officer and establish a better outlet for students to communicate issues with MSA, according to the slate’s website.
Sweets describes another point of their platform, advocacy, as a huge one that hits on a number of different subjects. Some of those subjects include gender-neutral housing and advocating for students on the state and local level, Sweets said.
Current MSA President Nick Droege and his cabinet have been working on a soft-closings project in which bars stay open an hour after they stop serving alcohol, providing time for customers to find a ride home. Sweets said they are committed to continuing the project because it is something that would go much further than Droege’s term.
The parking situation on campus also finds itself under the umbrella of advocacy for the slate. Students go to great lengths trying to find parking spots after commuting from an off-campus location, Folk said.
“We want to help and work with the parking and transportation department and make sure that what students want is represented,” Folk said.
For many organizations, the term advocacy serves as a catch-all for the hot topics surrounding the election, Sweets said. It is where slates run the problem of having similar platforms, but Sweets said he and Folk have the specific ideas and know-how to get it done.
The slate’s final point, efficiency, stems from the recent budget crunch faced by the current administration, Folk said. Effectiveness, efficiency and affordability are goals that each program needs to strive for, the slate said.
To cut down on the learning curve a vice president might have when preparing a yearly budget, Folk said he wants to make a projection forecasting what a budget may look like in a successive year.
A famous politician once said the worst sentence ever said by the human race is, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,” Sweets said. But Sweets said his concern is if he were to say that, people would be unaware of MSA and how they can help.
“(MSA) isn’t in the forefront of people’s minds, and that’s at the heart of what we’re trying to (solve),” Sweets said.