Editorial: The Maneater endorses Earl/Schafer
Empower MU is the best platform for reforming MSA.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Maneater editorial board.
Feb. 24, 2016
For the second time this school year, we find ourselves choosing among three slates in the Missouri Students Association’s presidential election. The circumstances of last semester’s debacle of an election have left the student body disillusioned with its government and MSA with an identity crisis regarding its role as an organization.
More than anything, this next executive administration needs to remedy the breach of trust and transparency that MSA has lost with the student body. In this regard, the Empower MU platform provides the best practical solutions to improving this relationship.
Just as was the case in the last election, social justice is one of the most important issues this campaign season. Social justice is undeniably an essential aspect of any MSA platform, and we’ve seen solid proposals and plans from both Earl/Schafer and Hutchinson/Ghuman. But the problems that MSA currently face go beyond inclusivity and accessibility. The next MSA president and vice president need to have clear plans to reform MSA structurally and culturally, something we’ve been advocating for in past editorials.
MSA has historically had a problem with engaging the student body, and the Earl/Schafer platform recognizes that. Their proposed monthly town halls provide a clear mechanism with which students can communicate their concerns to the executive leadership of their student government — something students feel has been difficult to do.
The Earl/Schafer platform places a heavy emphasis on recruitment — another problem that MSA has historically struggled with. While their plan to create a cohesive recruitment structure will keep the association fresh with new ideas, their acknowledgement of this problem sets them apart from the other slates.
Time and time again, MSA slates, senators and even the student body have had misguided notions as to what MSA can and cannot do. Sean Earl and Tori Schafer have the most experience with MSA and, as a result, understand best how to get the organization back to its roots.
Earl was secretary of auxiliaries in Payton Head’s administration. More than anyone, he recognizes that the most impactful changes MSA can administer are done through these auxiliaries.
For example, their goal to work with the STRIPES executive board to make the organization more gender inclusive is both practical and feasible because it's within MSA’s abilities to attain. Their proposal to move Truman’s Closet to an on-campus location is another accomplishment within MSA’s power.
This special election differs from ordinary MSA elections in that the annual budget is not a campaign issue. The budgetary process, the main responsibility of the vice president, is already in motion and will be nearly complete by the time the next vice president is inaugurated in April.
That being said, vice presidential candidate Tori Schafer impressed us in several other ways. Schafer leads MU’s chapter of the national sexual assault prevention campaign It's On Us. While this program isn’t the be-all end-all for sexual assault reform, the Earl/Schafer slate’s plans to expand the campaign are the best proposals in this election for combating sexual assault.
The Hutchinson/Ghuman platform does not address sexual assault, while the Turner/Evans platform informally includes “Tigers on the Prowl” — a relic of a program from the Artis/O’Brien campaign a year and a half ago.
The “Tigers on the Prowl” program seeks to provide students with a safe walk home in the same way STRIPES provides safe rides home. The Turner/Evans platform also seeks to provide all students with the self-defense courses currently provided to Panhellenic Association executive board members. However, MU Police Department already offers similar self-defense courses to all students.
In addition, these programs are also rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of how sexual assault happens on campus. The vast majority of campus sexual assault survivors know their assailant. Both of the proposed Turner/Evans programs fail to understand this. Security alone won’t come anywhere close to fixing campus sexual assault.
Beyond their plans involving MSA’s auxiliaries and It’s On Us, the Earl/Schafer slate is mindful about the advocacy role of the presidential and vice-presidential offices, and they are qualified to fulfill these roles. Schafer’s work with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri and Earl’s leadership experience make us confident that they will be effective advocates for the MU student body at the campus, system and state levels.
Given the circumstances of this election, the three platforms have not had as much time to develop as is normally the case. All three slates ought to be congratulated for assembling platforms so quickly. Regardless of the election’s outcome, all candidates should continue to be involved in MSA. Hutchinson/Ghuman and Turner/Evans represent parts of MU that are underrepresented in MSA and the organization will be made better with the addition of their perspectives.
That being said, the Earl/Schafer platform is, without a doubt, the most multifaceted and in-depth. The Hutchinson/Ghuman platform is almost entirely oriented toward social justice and doesn’t address some of the issues MSA faces as an organization. We like Hutchinson/Ghuman’s passion for social justice, but MSA has more problems than its handling of social justice issues. With Earl/Schafer, we get both social justice awareness and organizational reform, something MSA needs right now.
Turner/Evans are eager to serve the student body and learn about MSA as an organization, but they unfortunately lack any definitive institutional knowledge whatsoever and can’t be trusted with the office.
Earl and Schafer have the most applicable experience for the offices and have the best understanding of MSA’s abilities, identity and limitations. While certain plans in their platform are less-defined than we would have liked, we feel confident that these shortcomings will be improved over time.
The Earl/Schafer slate offers the best vision to address MSA’s unique needs at this point in time, and we are confident that they will serve the student body well.