Sophomore Payton Head is slated to become the new chairman of the Missouri Students Association’s Multicultural Issues Committee.
Head was chosen from three candidates to replace senior JoMarie Infranca, who recently received an internship and said she wanted to step down to make room for someone with more time to dedicate to the committee’s well-being.
“I’ve been (part of) the MCI for three years, and there were just a few things going into my senior year that I have always wanted to do, and that I haven’t had time to do as a committee chair,” Infranca said. “... I want to make sure that there is someone in charge that can give it the attention that it really deserves. I felt it was best that I step down.”
Infranca said she made many notable improvements to the committee, increasing its retention rate and developing strong relationships with MU’s minority organizations. Moving forward, she hopes Head will continue this trend.
“I think that Payton has a lot of ideas, and I think he’s going to be great as chair,” Infranca said.
One suggestion Infranca had was to continue good communication and collaboration with all of the minority organizations, especially through liaisons.
“I think that’s something that can always be improved — always reaching out and making sure that we’re doing a job representing the minority voice,” she said.
Head, who has been involved in the MCI since his freshman year, has also been involved in the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative, the Mizzou Black Men’s Initiative, the Legion of Black Collegians and Four Front. He said he brings a wide variety of experiences to the table alongside a concise vision.
“The main plan, as of now, is to focus on programming,” Head said. “We really want to define MCI’s role within MSA. Before, when MCI was created, it was formed as more of a reactionary committee to things that were going on around campus.”
Head said that LBC was more of a combatant student government implemented to establish a force within the black community for civil rights and advancement for MU. MCI was created to be a multicultural voice for all underrepresented communities on campus.
Head said he intends to make strides towards making the committee more proactive.
“Right now we have to move from (being) reactionary to proactive about things – proactive about inclusion and diversity around campus and promoting it,” Head said. “Some of the events that we will be doing will be events that define diversity to the student body because it’s a buzzword. You hear it all the time, and you think, ‘Well what the heck is diversity?’”
Head discussed MCI’s annual Hate Wall event, created to break down the stereotypes within the MU community, and SWIPES, in which MCI members collect food outside dining halls to benefit local food pantries.
The new chairman hopes to broaden the student body’s understanding of diversity to include the views of both minorities and majorities.
“(Diversity’s) literal meaning is difference, so one thing that I want to focus on is including students of all walks of life, no matter who you are or where you come from,” Head said.
Head referenced various types of cultures, including the cultures of Greek life, the LGBT community, international students, the black community and students of various religions and socioeconomic backgrounds. “Whatever kind of culture you have, that’s what we need,” Head said later in an email. “That’s the kind of representation we want in our community for MCI and MSA as a whole.”
Head said his views align with his predecessor’s in that future collaboration and outreach will be pivotal to the MCI’s success, and he is reaching out to various groups on campus.
Head’s strong vision and enthusiasm landed him the position.
“I was focused on someone with vision,” MSA Speaker McKenzie Morris said. “Strategic planning has been a focus of mine since I took office, and so I was really looking for a committee chair who was looking to continue in a definite direction. I think that’s what MCI needs — a definite vision of where and who they want to be, and who they want to serve, and more importantly how they want to serve them. Payton is most certainly a visionary.”
Head said he is wasting no time reaching out to the abundance of cultural organizations MU offers, kickstarting the MCI’s efforts to become more proactive and vocal.
“We’re trying to redefine our role within MSA, and not just be another diversity organization,” Head said.
Head discussed attending Four Front retreats and creating long-lasting relationships with organizations.
“The focus for me isn’t so much on just creating business partnerships, it is creating friendships, making sure that Mizzou knows that we as a committee care about making sure that no voice is silenced because every voice matters and we are forever One Mizzou,” he wrote.