BEC hosts first MSA debate

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Dr. Cathy Scroggs, Senate Speaker Benjamin Bolin and RHA President Steven Chaffin moderated the debate.

The Missouri Students Association’s Board of Elections Commissioners hosted the first MSA presidential debate Monday night in The Shack. The three slates gave their opinions and described their platforms on various issues.

The three slates are juniors Myles Artis and Mary Cate O’Brien, juniors Payton Head and Brenda Smith-Lezama, and sophomores Jordan McFarland and T.J. Hinch.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs, Senate Speaker Benjamin Bolin and Residential Halls Association President Steven Chaffin moderated the debate.

Debate questions

What is the role of student government and what will you do to educate the campus body?

All slates agreed that a student government’s main priority is to address the issues concerning students, and that it should be transparent by reaching out and talking with students. Head/Smith-Lezama said that they want to visit the student organizations that are left out of conversations. McFarland/Hinch said they want to create a more open culture in student government, where it’s acceptable to ask questions. Artis/O’Brien said they want students to “Join In,” like their slogan says, and unite to give students the best MU experience possible.

Why is alcohol abuse not addressed in the Head/Smith-Lezama platform?

The Head/Smith-Lezama slate was asked why they didn’t include alcohol abuse as a part of their platform, while the other two slates did. Head/Smith-Lezama said while they acknowledge alcohol abuse is happening, it’s still a college campus. They said they don’t feel there needs to be a new campaign to fight alcohol abuse, but they want to work actively with resources that are available. The Artis/O’Brien slate rebutted, saying alcohol is involved in the majority of sexual assaults, and new sexual assault education will help with awareness of sexual assault prevention. The McFarland/Hinch slate said MU is a dry campus, and that needs to be recognized.

What would happen if you had to cut 2 percent from the MSA budget?

All the slates agreed that education should be prioritized when making budget cuts. McFarland/Hinch and Artis/O’Brien said they would take cuts to their salaries, while Head/Smith-Lezama did not think that should become a precedent. Hinch said he would donate his entire salary of $5,000 to MSA to help offset budget deficits. McFarland added that cuts should be taken from MSA first instead of cutting education spending. Artis/O’Brien said that they would work with different organizations on campus to determine where they would need money most, then make cuts from there. Head/Smith-Lezama said cutting salaries is noble, but added that many students work to support themselves, so it shouldn’t become a habit for the future.

What unique issues do you think students living in the residence halls face?

Each slate brought up different issues when addressing the problems faced in residence halls. Myles/O’Brien said that they wanted to have more diverse dining options so multicultural students or students with dietary needs feel comfortable. They also would like to make sure off-campus freshmen feel included. McFarland/Hinch mentioned gender-neutral housing as an issue. They agreed with Myles/O’Brien on the issue of needing more food that addresses the unique needs of every student. Head/Smith-Lezama said they wanted to continue to collaborate with RHA, and work on improving the state of the laundry facilities in residence halls.

What city/state issues they should address to maintain civil engagement and promote student involvement?

All three slates were asked about what they issues they will address at a city and state level, and started with a response from the Artis/O’Brien slate. They said campus safety is a very big issue, mainly regarding sexual assault and domestic violence. McFarland/Hinch agreed, and said they want to collaborate with local and state governments in order to increase campus-wide safety and reduce sexual assaults and domestic violence. However, the Head/Smith-Lezama slate focused on getting the student voice heard by the Board of Curators, and helping students become aware of the contracts they get themselves into.

Follow @TheManeater on Twitter for more updates. The next MSA presidential debate is Thursday, November 6 at 5:30-7:30 p.m. and will be hosted by Four Front Minority Council and The Maneater.

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