We have our fair share of fun-poking at student government, but this year brought some of the most ridiculous Missouri Students Association moments to date.
1. That’s why its budget is so big, it’s filled with secrets
The MSA budget process may have been streamlined and efficient from an MSA perspective, but from the perspective of the average student, it was not even close. After asking MSA Vice President Kelsey Haberberger for a copy of the budget draft for nearly two weeks, The Maneater had to submit a formal Sunshine Request to receive a copy. After that, the MSA Senate speaker and various senators were asking Maneater reporters for the draft.
2. When MSA closes a door, Missouri law opens a window
We thought submitting a formal Sunshine Request was bad enough, but it got worse. When the Budget Committee got closer to voting on the budget, former committee chairwoman Shelby Catalano asked all non-Budget Committee members to leave the meeting for a “closed-door meeting.” She and the other committee members were surprised to find out, however, that this not only violated the MSA Constitution (Chapter 11) but also violated state law.
3. Bored Election Commissioners
The MSA presidential race is always stressful, but when the people who are supposed to be monitoring the elections aren’t doing so, “stressful” reaches a whole new level. The Board of Elections Commissioners allowed one slate to use an MSA auxiliary for campaign purposes (which, although not necessarily a big deal, did violate the BEC handbook). Then, the BEC allowed that slate to solicit campaign publicity for philanthropy donations (which wasn’t exactly soliciting votes but was very close). And then, the BEC realized three weeks late that one slate did not have enough signatures to be on the ballot. All of these mistakes made it a particularly messy election, much of which should be accredited to the general incompetence of the BEC. (Oh, and they forgot the podium at announcements.)
4. Major Twitter trouble
One of the most talked-about issues during the MSA election was a series of tweets from junior Taylor Major, a former MSA senator and presidential candidate. Major, during his freshman year and into his sophomore year at MU, tweeted numerous offensive tweets that primarily included demeaning statements about women. Though these tweets were often a joke among some MSA senators, they became more public when they were sent to members of MSA executives and led to Major being asked to leave MSA Senate. Considering this became the hallmark of Major’s presidential campaign, it came as little surprise that he and his running mate didn’t make it to the ballot when they didn’t try to receive the 24 more signatures needed to reach the 500 signatures required to be on the ballot.
Retention for any organization is low at the end of the year, but MSA Senate really brought it to a new extreme. Out of the 71 senators allowed in the MSA bylaws, there were only 43 senators in Senate toward the end of spring 2014, of which between 22 and 27 senators were actually attending Senate. It’s hard for any organization to keep its members interested, but this was embarrassing considering MSA was reviewing and passing its $1.6-million budget during those Senate meetings. Maybe next semester senators should listen to MSA adviser Farouk Aregbe when he said that more people would be interested if MSA were passing less legislation on itself and more legislation that actually affects students.