A voters’ guide to the 2017 MSA presidential election

Vote at vote.missouri.edu. Polls close at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Voting for the Missouri Students Association presidential election opened Monday. Through debates and platforms, the slates have made many statements on what they hope to accomplish if they win the election. Here is our comprehensive breakdown on the two campaigns: Tori Schafer/Riley de Leon and Nathan Willett/Payton Englert.

Students can vote in the election at vote.missouri.edu.

The candidate’s backgrounds

Tori Schafer is the current MSA vice president. Before assuming the vice presidency, she was the Senate Academic Affairs Committee chairwoman. She is also the regional advisor for the White House’s It’s On Us campaign, an initiative that seeks to address campus sexual assault, and she leads the Mizzou branch of It’s On Us. She is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

Riley de Leon is Schafer’s running mate and the current social media and technologies coordinator for the Department of Student Communications, the MSA executive department that handles public relations and engagement. De Leon has also published two novels and is a keynote speaker who presents on the issues millennials face. He also serves on the campus It’s On Us task force with Tori.

Nathan Willett has served on the Rocking Against Multiple Sclerosis Steering Committee and the executive board of his fraternity, Sigma Chi, where he has said he coordinated the largest philanthropic event in his fraternity’s history. Willett has also been a senator for MSA.

Payton Englert, Willett’s running mate, was named director of Greek Week for 2017 and has served on the steering committee. She has also served on the Mizzou Wishmakers executive board and in MSA as a senator. She is a member of Delta Delta Delta.

Willett/Englert is running under the slogan “Tigers Together” and Schafer/de Leon under “Make It Matter, Mizzou.” The slates can be referred to by their combined names or slogans interchangeably.

Another slate, Josh Stockton/Shruti Gulati, dropped from the race Saturday and endorsed Willett/Englert.

Their stances on issues

Sexual assault

Perhaps the largest dispute over the course of the election has been the It’s On Us campaign. Schafer and de Leon have both served on the campus task force for the campaign and cite it as a key part of their platform. Willett/Englert have been critical of the current status of It’s On Us, at one point tweeting, “Tori has done a great job working for It's On Us, but we think it takes more than writing 3 words on your hand and taking a photo.”

At the second debate, when asked what alternates to It’s On Us the slate would pursue, Englert said they would expand It’s On Us programming. She gave an example of a rally another university had held as a possibility for Mizzou.

Diversity

Both slates have also stated they will pursue diversity and awareness in MSA. The main way they plan to address the issue is through the executive cabinet position of chief diversity and inclusivity officer, which does currently exist but is unpaid. They have both also stated that they will encourage peer education programs, such as facilitations from Diversity Peer Educators, Safe Space training and Green Dot training.

Prison labor

When asked about a joint session resolution from last year that called for the university to stop using products made from prison labor, neither slate said affirmatively that they would uphold the resolution. Willett said he thought prison labor was a good thing for prisoners and that prisoners had “pride and passion” for their work. Schafer said more information needed to be gathered before making an official statement.

Stockton/Gulati was the only slate who said they would uphold the resolution, but they have since withdrawn from the race.

Enhance Mizzou

Both slates support the Enhance Mizzou fee, a $35 student fee that would provide for extended library hours, faster Wi-Fi, three more full-time counselors at the Counseling Center and more.

MSA reform

Willett/Englert has made outreach a main part of their platform, meant to increase awareness of MSA on campus. The two have outlined several methods, such as biweekly video updates and town halls, to accomplish this.

Schafer/de Leon has said they plan to streamline and combine the Department of Student Activities and Department of Student Life. DSA in particular has struggled with turnover in leadership positions. They stated in a debate that they also want to rework the Department of Student Communications, which de Leon said was dysfunctional.

All slates said MSA was too “political” and needed to focus on students and issues rather than political intrigue.

*Other issues

All slates also said they would defer to students when it came to the issue of guns on campus and that they would advocate for student access to Planned Parenthood, including abortion services. They have both also expressed support for students who would be affected by President Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions and bathroom accessibility for transgender students.

Programming they plan to implement

Candidates on both campaigns have come up with ideas for programming and initiatives that would address problems on campus. For Willett/Englert, these include creating an educational program that would help students to understand the process to get in-state residency and a week to promote MSA services.

Specifically regarding outreach, Willett/Englert hopes to create programming such as biweekly video updates, a “State of Mizzou” speech mid-term, town halls and a revamped social media presence. A cornerstone of their campaign has been monthly “coffee on the couch” programming, in which they will put their yellow spray-painted couch in Speakers Circle to engage with students.

Programming for the Schafer/de Leon slate includes the creation of an endowment for transgender students, a task force on affordable student housing, a sustainability task force, a safe bar program to help train bartenders to recognize dangerous situations and a “creed week,” which is a week of inclusion-oriented programming modeled after curriculum implemented by other schools’ student governments. They also hope to have MU host the first It’s On Us regional conference.

Their budgets

Schafer/de Leon said during the first MSA debate that they plan to spend $1,800.

Willett/Englert has raised almost $5,000 through a campaign GoFundMe. They have stated that their high budget comes from untapped resources such as their respective Greek organizations, and they plan to give unspent funds to a nonprofit of their choice.

All slates agreed in the first presidential debate that the cost of campaigning is a barrier to some students. There is not currently a cap on the amount a student seeking election can spend.

Other resources

The Maneater has written articles with key takeaways from the first and second debates and overviews of both the Schafer/de Leon platform and the Willett/Englert platform.

All Maneater coverage of the election can be found under the 2017 MSA Presidential Election tag on the website.

The full Schafer/de Leon platform can be viewed here, their Twitter and Facebook here and here.

Willett/Englert’s platform is available here, their Twitter here and Facebook here.

The Maneater has also covered the Enhance Mizzou student fee. There is also a Twitter account that hopes to educate students about the fee.

Edited by Katherine Stevenson | kstevenson@themaneater.com

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