Missouri Students Association Senate Speaker Mckenzie Morris has been formally appointed to the post of student chairwoman of the Student Fees Capital Improvement Committee.
Each year, the MSA and Graduate Professional Council presidents rotate the task of selecting a new student chairman of the committee, with MSA choosing every odd-numbered year and the GPC on even-numbered years, MSA President Nick Droege said.
The committee manages more than $200,000 worth of funding requests from students and faculty for capital goods that are more than $5,000 and intended to last for more than five years, Morris said. The committee implemented a policy in recent years in which it largely prohibited funding requests for items readily available many places on campus, such as computers.
Morris was the interim SFCIC student chairwoman last year.
“Last year, we had a really good year,” Morris said. “We finished in a month what was typically finished in five months.”
Morris said she plans to adopt a similar approach to last year, emphasizing the necessity of a quick, organized procedure.
“Last year, everyone on the committee responded positively to having that streamlined process, Morris said. “It was a lot more efficient.”
Morris said, in previous years, it was a much lengthier process.
“You would hear 50 or 60 different presentations, most of the time where you didn’t learn any new information,” she said. “This year, it will be stratifying it very similarly … so that we can narrow (the proposals) down to the ones we’re really serious about.”
Morris said that she prefers this more streamlined approach not only for the benefits it has to the decision-making process as a whole but also for how it helps those who will not be receiving funding.
“The other really awesome thing about that is if we make these decisions faster, we can notify the people who are not going to get funded so that they can seek other source of funding,” Morris said. “In the past, everyone found out on the same day, whether they got funded or not, so some people were twiddling their thumbs for five months like, ‘Oh my goodness, do I have funding for my project?’ when they could have been seeking other sources.”
Droege said he chose Morris based upon his previous interactions with her and her prior experience in the role.
“... It’s always beneficial to a committee when you can have the sustainable leadership from year-to-year, and since we had the opportunity to have someone who led the committee last year, and return and lead the committee again, it would be remiss of us to not seize that opportunity,” Droege said.
Ben Levin, the president of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, echoed Droege in highlighting her prior experience and skills that he said makes her an excellent fit for the role.
“Mckenzie is a former chair of the (MSA) Budget Committee, so she’s comfortable around numbers, and I think throughout her time in student leadership, she has demonstrated the ability to make tough decisions and build a consensus around (them), which is really what being SFCIC chair is all about,” Levin said. “So I wasn’t really surprised at all that Nick chose her.”
Droege continued to praise Morris for her strong decision-making skills and ability to detach personal predispositions from the proposals she considers.
“Mckenzie is very unbiased,” Droege said. “She is very understanding of the rules and processes that are necessary to make the proper decisions. Not just the best decisions and the emotionally obvious decisions, but the ones that are smart, are in the best interest of students now and in the coming years.”
Morris said she is not worried that these additional responsibilities will hinder her ability to effectively execute her leadership role within MSA Senate.
“Last year, we started the last week in January and finished the last week in February, so if we continue with this similar process, I anticipate four-to-five weeks again, which I think is going to be very manageable with MSA Senate,” Morris said. “So I don’t think it’ll be too much of a time conflict … (and) if there were ever a proposal that was a conflict of interest, I would recuse myself from discussion.”
Levin explained why the SFCIC is an important committee on campus, and why students should take notice of what happens within it.
“SFCIC is important because students don’t really get a lot of say on how to spend money on capital projects generally,” Levin said. “This is the main way that students participate in kind of seeing what parts of campus get nicer things or newer things, so students should care because if you’ve ever sat on a broken chair or used subpar equipment, then SFCIC represents one of the only ways that you could go about fixing that.”
Morris said she encourages students to fill out applications for SFCIC, which will become available soon, to take advantage of the financial resources on campus.
“I’m really excited, SFCIC is one of my favorite things,” Morris said. “I love working with the faculty; they’re so much fun.”