Major-Paterson slate emphasizes student involvement in creating A Better Mizzou

The slate had an announcement event on Oct. 23.

There is no easy way to describe the Major-Paterson slate, and that is exactly how they like it.

Former Missouri Students Association Sen. Taylor Major and Sen. Dan Paterson have centered their campaign around the broad focus of creating “A Better Mizzou,” aimed at getting more students involved, becoming more transparent and efficient.

Major said the slate was motivated to run for president and vice president because of the public dialogue they would partake in.

“One of the reasons we’re running is we want to have an open public debate about ideas and direction of MSA,” Major said. “I was really excited about having these public debates, and it doesn’t seem like it’s happening. Seems like the (other) slates aren’t even excited about the debate … and about effecting student life as we are.”

Their platform is formally centered around three concepts:

  • Service, which is designed to help students in with everyday issues and inconveniences,
  • One Mizzou, a detailed campaign to bring students together and eliminate disparities, and
  • Expansion into the state and local levels in an attempt to give students a voice in areas that affect them.

One proponent to the service aspect of their campaign deals with tuition for out-of-state students. According to information they provided, out-of-state enrollment in 2013 was 6,680, up from 5,450 two years prior. These students are required to pay $752.30 per credit hour, whereas in-state students pay a substantially lower $274.

“We want to make it easier for students to gain in-state tuition,” Major said. “In addition to that, we want to make out-of-state students a little more competitive because, right now as it stands, we force out-of-state students to choose between valuable research opportunities or internships, and we force them to have a job.”

The slate said they also want to continue the efforts of the current administration, commending President Nick Droege for his work with Tiger Pantry. They believe that there is still more work to be done, citing the nearly 20 percent of the undergraduate population who received Pell grants for financial struggles at MU in 2012.

“We want to reach all the students, and sometimes one service doesn’t reach all of the students, and we understand that,” Paterson said. “That’s why we don’t narrow our ideas down to three things because we have to have so many to reach all of the students.”

Major continued to explain the second portion of their platform, which is focused on expanding MSA into the state and local level. He cited ongoing issues regarding Aspen Heights housing as an example of why this expansion is necessary.

“In order to make this happen, we have to build better relationships with city hall,” Major said. “We want to have an actual conversation and put together a piece of legislation pushed through City Council to where students are protected.”

The slate said their desire to expand the association into the state level is rooted in their hope to truly represent the student body, their “bosses.”

“We want to make sure that students can be heard on any level,” Major said. “This is important because things that affect students everyday: tuition, fees, the choosing of a chancellor, faculty hiring decisions, all of these things are made on the Board of Curators level and students, (who are) the largest demographic on campus, don’t have a single say on (that level). … Students need a voice.”

The One Mizzou portion of the Major-Paterson campaign is designed to make the campus more collectively involved. It is not about getting people who are already involved to become more involved but about creating an environment conducive to participation and mutual acceptance.

The slate said that they have a variety of ideas for how to accomplish this goal and discussed a handful of them. They reasserted that their campaign is diverse and that ideas are in abundance beyond those examples.

“We want to make one Homecoming,” Paterson said. “We want to make sure that everybody feels welcome to come to the one Homecoming. This means all Greek (Life students), this means people who aren’t Greek. Everybody should have a feeling of inclusivity, that they can come and not be judged for what they are and who they are.”

Major and Paterson also discussed their desire to have a non-discrimination statement included in the collective rules and regulations, preventing all forms of discrimination on campus. They admit this would not unilaterally resolve all discriminatory issues on campus but think it will hold people more accountable and decrease the frequency in which they occur.

Another idea has been dubbed lobby week, aimed at increasing the campuswide discussion with MSA on relevant issues.

“Right now, we’re going off of our personal experiences, what we’ve gotten back from talking to people, but are our personal experiences enough to judge what the university and students need?” Paterson said. “… Students aren’t going to want to come and take time out of their day to talk about these issues, so we have to take these issues to them. That’s something I don’t think we’ve done so well in the past.”

Major said that they plan to expand this concept beyond individual students and extend this courtesy to the variety of organizations on campus.

“ORGs and MSA is designed to see how MSA can help your organization,” Major said. “So often MSA tells students what’s important … but as people that work with students we have to listen sometimes. This process basically (asks organizations) what the student government should care about.”

If elected president, Major said he plans to take advantage of his cabinet’s ability to provide new insight and knowledge.

“I’m going to require my cabinet to undergo diversity peer education training out of the Multicultural Center,” Major said. “This is so important because Dan and I only come from two distinct backgrounds. … By having our entire cabinet go through diversity peer education training, it enables us to learn more about different backgrounds and struggles different students face.”

The budget is also a large concern for any presidential slate, tasking the vice president with managing an expansive $1.7 million budget that is shared among several different auxiliaries, organizations, utilities and events throughout the year.

“One of the biggest problems that people have is that they get lost in the enormity of what the budget is,” Paterson said. “One of the things I’m fighting for with the budget is making sure that we don’t just see the overarching enormity that is the budget but we see the individual things it comes out to. That means understanding the value of each individual dollar.”

Paterson is approaching the budget with three primary points in mind. The first is transparency, which he said is lacking in the current system. If elected, Paterson plans to brief the Senate on the budget every month.

“(The budget) is huge,” Paterson said. “So we have to make sure that Senate understands when they pass it, what they’re passing. … It passes through sometimes without anyone doing the checks and balances upon it. To fix that, I’m going to really include the MSA Budget Committee.”

The second tenet is efficiency, which they commended current Vice President Zach Beattie for improving.

“(Efficiency) means cutting food: simple things so that our money goes farther,” Paterson said. “But I think there’s still more that we can do. This includes finding cheaper places to rent from, … and that’s something I don’t think we look at enough.”

The third and final aspect of the budget is generating more revenue within MSA, specifically with the Craft Studio.

Aside from utilizing Craft Studio, the slate also said they plan to set up an endowment that will generate revenue that can be put toward new projects and services.

“The basic idea is that we put money away, we take money that students don’t see, and we make sure they see it now,” Major said. “How do we do that? We put it in the endowment, and the endowment generates more money … (that) we’re going to use … towards services. This is long-term sustainability.”

Discussing the state of auxiliaries, Paterson emphasized the importance of MUTV and KCOU. The slate wants to continue to improve current programs on campus and ensure that students who need them are given the means to use them.

“One of the reasons I’ve been so passionate about expanding MUTV and KCOU is because I feel like Mizzou is known for its journalism program,” Paterson said. “... I feel like programs like MUTV and KCOU help foster that recognition.”

The slate held its announcement event Oct. 23 at Jesse Wrench Auditorium, offering live entertainment, free food and a glimpse into their campaign. Paterson spoke briefly about some of the characteristics necessary for strong leadership, and Major followed by discussing the relationship between he and his vice presidential candidate, joking that Paterson’s ability to challenge his ideas is one of the reasons they work so well together.

Kyle East, who performed two songs at the announcement, gave some insight as to why he supports the Major-Paterson duo.

“Taylor definitely has a real strong presence,” East said. “And like he said, he’s has three years of experience in MSA, so I’m absolutely supporting both him and Dan. … I can definitely seem them working together really well, challenging each other and therefore making a big impact on Mizzou.”

The Major-Paterson campaign said it features diverse ideas that aim to expand student influence, provide means for students to become involved and further bring the campus together.

“We want to make sure that Mizzou feels like a home for you,” Major said. “You should feel like you can be yourself, that you’re welcomed with open arms, and everything is inclusive for you wherever you go on campus.”

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