It’s official: Nick Droege is out, and Mason Schara is in. Before the outgoing Missouri Students Association president formally passes the torch to his successor at Thursday’s inauguration dinner, we assess Droege’s term in the four areas we feel define his administration and work best.
One of Droege’s most successful and important endeavors was his fight against House Bill 253, a piece of legislation that would have lowered income tax but, more importantly, could have increased tuition. MSA and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri organized a rally against the bill with legislators from each side present to argue their points in front of a large student audience in September 2013 at the MU Student Center. Droege also went to Jefferson City to lobby for students on numerous occasions throughout his term. If the MSA president has one priority, it should be fighting for students, and Droege did it well. He successfully got students excited and involved in the state political process that often affects them.
Droege also took a firm stance against the Columbia Missourian’s paywall. After a semester of stalled talks, Droege announced in December that the Missourian would be removed from the Mizzou Readership Program if the Missourian did not look into online access options for students. Droege’s ultimatum is indicative of the amount of commitment he put into advocating for students. Even when his term was nearly completed, Droege still worked hard behind the scenes to use student fees in the most efficient and effective ways possible. Droege proved that his approach to the presidency was a top-to-bottom one.
The former MSA president also exemplified the qualities of a great leader in many other areas of his administration. During his term he built strong relationships with administrators on campus, especially when he worked with his vice president, Zach Beattie, on handling extreme budget cuts. Droege was a likable character who never let his persona come before his job as student leader. In addition, he restored the MSA President Twitter account to a professional representation of students.
Programs were a key marker of Droege’s administration, specifically Truman’s Closet and Tiger Pantry. Truman’s Closet was a Droege-Beattie campaign promise that has become an official MSA auxiliary, providing students with business attire for job interviews.
It’s safe to say that Tiger Pantry, a food bank for the MU community, was the pinnacle of Droege’s work with MSA. Beginning as an idea borrowed from the SEC Exchange, Droege has helped grow Tiger Pantry into one of the best food banks in the Southeastern Conference, providing more than 22,000 pounds of food (even including fresh fruit) to more than 2,000 people in its first year.
In both instances, Droege and his administration laid the foundation for these programs and set them up for success in years to come.
All that being said, Droege’s term wasn’t program-focused; it was issue-focused. Obviously, it’s impossible to address every diversity issue on campus, but the socioeconomic angle Droege took was successful in touching on several of them. Droege reminded us that not everyone is attending MU on his or her parents’ dime. When he heard that 20 students designate themselves as homeless each year, he went to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs to see if MSA could help.
That’s not say Droege focused on diversity all the time, which was mainly apparent with One Mizzou Week. We understand the responsibility of the diversity celebration wasn’t solely Droege’s, but he could have taken a firmer stance in favor of an all-out celebration. The 2013 One Mizzou Week felt more like a formality, especially when more emphasis was placed on events like Zombie Week and Hey Day.
Overall, Droege’s cabinet was a strong one. Including Zach Beattie as vice president, Droege had a solid team behind him to put his campaign promises into action. Yet, Droege trusted few with the small number of tasks he delegated, using his cabinet for advice more than anything else. During the summer, there was a lot of shuffling and subbing in and out within the cabinet. Despite this confusion and inconsistency, Droege was still able to carry his administration to success. Most of all, we fault the cabinet for its cliquiness and containment within itself.
To sum up Droege’s performance over his term in one sentence: Nick Droege was a thorough and detail-oriented leader who worked for students before he took office, throughout his entire term and even after Schara moved in. He brought the student body together through his care and concern for the MU community, and for that, we give Droege high marks.
Final grade: B