Candidates sketch communication outlines
The three slates hope to build on open-door foundation.
Oct. 28, 2008
This is the fourth part in a series looking at the Missouri Students Association presidential slates and their platform positions. This issue focuses on the candidates' plans to communicate with students. The next issue will be about the candidates' plans for advocating for students. The election is Nov. 10 to Nov. 12.
Communication between students and their government is a big issue for Phyllis Williams and her running mate Jonathan Snipes. Williams said she believes it is not the responsibility of student groups to come to her, but rather hers to go beyond just an open-door policy and come to the students.
Williams said she would like to visit multiple student organizations each week, starting with the core groups and working her way out. The first on her list is the Residence Halls Association and other student governments on campus.
Williams is open to different ideas of communication such as hotlines, but has no scruples about giving out her cell phone number to anyone with concerns.
"If you want to call me at (midnight), I'll probably be studying but I will talk to you," Williams said.
Williams would like to see more tangibility between the everyday student and their student government. She would also like to see more utilization of Facebook, perhaps with a page devoted solely for the purpose of voicing concerns to her.
"E-mails just don't simply cut it," Williams said.
Jordan Paul, who is running with Colleen Hoffmann, has praised MSA's administration under President Jim Kelley on several topics. One of those is communication with students, which Paul said has improved over time in the past few years.
"I think MSA has gotten progressively better at gathering student opinions and getting students involved in MSA," Paul said. "Especially over the last two years we've gotten better at working with major student organizations."
Paul said his administration would also focus on working with other prominent student groups, such as the Interfraternity Council, the Residence Halls Association, the Legion of Black Collegians and Four Front, to gather students' views.
As far as his platform's concerned, Paul said he would work with Sustain Mizzou in dealings involving one of his platform's key points: sustainability.
However, Paul also said he sees the need for a different approach to deal with students not a part of major student groups.
"As previous administrations have had, we'd have an open-door policy, of course," Paul said. "The Senate's probably the best venue. I don't think something like questionnaires adequately address students' thoughts. We want them to really get involved and we want to hear their ideas."
Communication with students is a focal point of Joe Fessehaye and Lindsey Abell's presidential platform.
Fessehaye and Abell said they have already met with several student organizations to ask about what they would like see changed at MU. Some of these groups have included the Asian American Association, KCOU/88.1 FM, of which Fessehaye is the assistant general manager, and a few Greek organizations.
Fessehaye said they plan to meet with as many groups as possible in the coming weeks to gather more suggestions and student input.
"As students not in MSA, had we not done our research we wouldn't know what was going on in MSA," Fessehaye said.
If elected, he and Abell would work to eliminate this perceived ambiguity about MSA's activities.
"The major concern that I have with MSA is that a lot of students don't know what MSA does or have never heard of it," Abell said.
To reach those students not involved in student organizations, Fessehaye and Abell hope to tape the MSA Senate meetings and broadcast highlights on MUTV/Channel 23.
The pair also said they plan to provide regular opportunities for students to call in to KCOU and speak with MSA representatives. They said they believe this method of communication would also be a way to reach all students on campus.
Ask the expert
MSA Department of Student Communication Director Porscha Kirkwood discussed the candidates potential plans to improve student communication.
Kirkwood said she felt Fessehaye's plan of putting MSA representatives on-air KCOU is feasible but it would depend on the format of the program because some topics would be better handled by people from different areas within MSA.
"It all depends on what you are actually talking about because there are so many entities of MSA," Kirkwood said.
She thought that Paul's and Williams' plan to meet with student groups would be a good improvement on the current administration's work toward bettering communication between the other student governments, including the Legion of Black Collegians and the Residence Halls Association.
Kirkwood said Williams' ideas about a Facebook page or a hotline dedicated to students voicing concerns about MSA to the administration are feasible. She thinks it would be a good step and would give people an outlet to comment on different topics but is concerned about issues of anonymity and immediacy.