When former Missouri Students Association President Nick Droege came into office last year, he created a new cabinet position: the deputy chief of staff.
President Mason Schara kept this position alive and two other unpaid positions in his cabinet: legislative coordinator and chief diversity officer.
All three positions are unofficial positions that are not written into the MSA bylaws and are not financially compensated by MSA at this time.
By replacing the legislative advocacy officer, which was once a paid position, with the unpaid legislative coordinator position, MSA is able to save $3,549, sophomore Gunnar Johanson, MSA director of student communications, said in an email.
Deputy Chief of Staff
Schara said Droege created the deputy chief of staff position because the chief of staff had too much work.
“The year before (my time as chief of staff), the chief of staff, Steven Dickherber, was unbelievably bogged down,” Schara said. “They put everything on him and kind of made him the cappuccino-bringer, which is not something we are doing.”
Schara said his rationale for keeping the position is the same as Droege’s. The two chiefs of staff will each be tasked with leading projects and acting as liaisons between the cabinet and different parts of campus, as well as outside MU.
Chief of Staff Myles Artis, sophomore, organized the Southeastern Conference Exchange alongside the steering committee. The position requires Artis to communicate with various collegiate student councils and arrange meetings between Schara and campus administrators.
“We want more of a communication between all of the groups so that we are being as progressive as we possibly can,” Schara said. “That is something we haven’t done in the past. I think having it delegated to two people — one with more experience over the other one — will be beneficial.”
Deputy Chief of Staff Haden Gomez, freshman, has been coordinating the Feb. 6 MSA presidential inauguration and “revamping” MU’s club sports, Schara said.
“We were approached by the University of Kansas because they wanted us to make a big deal on club sports and bring back the rivalry we used to have with KU, but in a smaller sense and less-intense way,” he said. “That has been a huge tradition in our past, and we are trying to facilitate communication between our rec center and students who are involved in those clubs sports to bring that back.”
In addition, Gomez will communicate with SEC schools and collaborate with MSA Campus and Community Relations Committee in communicating to those outside of MU.
While Artis will be given a minimum wage pay for six hours of office work each week, Schara does not anticipate that Gomez or his successor will be financially compensated.
“It’s more of an experience position,” Schara said. “What’s really awesome for Haden is that (the position) gives him experience that a lot of his peers won’t have.”
Gomez’s status as an unofficial cabinet member can also help the cabinet’s communication efforts, Schara said.
“Since (Gomez’s) position is not an official cabinet position, he is still allowed to be a senator,” Schara said. “This is a good way for us to have a liaison between Senate and cabinet.”
Junior Camille Hosman will serve as the legislative coordinator in Schara’s cabinet.
The legislative coordinator position has been around since last year, filled by senior Ben Levin who assisted Samantha Green, Droege's first legislative advocacy officer. When Green graduated and Levin was made president of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri in Spring 2013, Hosman became the LAO and Matt Tharp became the legislative coordinator.
Schara did not hire a new LAO but hired another legislative coordinator.
Schara said that as LAO, Hosman was responsible for MSA’s legislative advocacy at the state level, a role that was replaced by Levin.
“When the LAO (position) was created, ASUM did not have a very large or recognizable position on Mizzou’s campus,” Schara said. “Since (Levin) was elected president of ASUM, he flipped that around and has been training people so that (ASUM) stays a prominent organization on campus. With that being done, the legislative advocacy officer position was no longer needed.”
Hosman will now focus more of her attention on issues at the city level. Hosman said that as she works on these issues, she will also help smooth the transition of ASUM president into the MSA cabinet.
“Having the ASUM campus president on cabinet is making legislative advocacy efforts more consistent, making sure that actions are not replicated and that communication is more clear between the organizations,” Hosman said.
Chief Diversity Officer
The chief diversity officer was a position Droege had attempted to create, but it did not come to long-term fruition.
But Schara believes he has a clear purpose for the job.
“We really want the chief diversity officer to be someone who focuses on talking to the different diversity groups,” he said. “This position is going to be the liaison between not just cabinet but all of MSA to those (organizations).”
Schara added that the chief diversity officer’s role differs from those of the Multicultural Issues Committee, whose role is to focus on social justice related legislation in Senate.
Senior Victoria Yu will take on the position and act as a liaison between MSA and various campus minority organizations.
“I hope to build a strong foundation and work with all of the different minority groups and let them know about MSA, as well as the different services and opportunities we offer them,” she said.
Yu also said bridging the gap between international students and domestic students will be key to making MU more “inclusive.”
Future of the new positions
It is unclear at this time whether the two new cabinet positions will be financially compensated in the future. Schara said 2014 will be a “tentative year” of testing out these positions, to assess MSA’s need for them.
“It is something that would be decided by next year’s president and vice president,” Schara said. “After the budget cuts last year, there really isn’t any money sitting around to pay (another) position, and we don’t want to throw money at something without knowing that it is going to be successful.”
Yu added that she hopes the position will become a vital part of the MSA cabinet in the future.
“Diversity is becoming a big part of our culture, and I hope that (MSA) will have enough funds to pay for this position in the future,” Yu said.
ASUM discussed the possibility of paying Hosman through the organization, though no decision has been made at this time. If she were to be compensated by ASUM, Hosman would receive minimum wage pay for six to 10 hours of office work each week, Levin said.
“Camille puts in enough time that it’s only fair that she is compensated for her work,” he said. “If you look at the time commitments that people put up here, paying them is only fair.”