Mark McDaniel replaces Kevin Carr as MSA senate speaker
McDaniel plans to improve Senate communications and encourage diversity of opinions.
Mar. 03, 2016
Former Board of Elections Commissioners Vice Chairman Mark McDaniel is now the new senate speaker after Kevin Carr left the position with an emotional goodbye speech to Senate on Feb. 24.
Carr has been with the Missouri Students Association since he was a sophomore. After serving as a senator, he became Student Affairs Chairman and was elected speaker last year. He is graduating this spring.
He said he was happy to leave Senate to the next generation of senators.
“I could tell by the end of my term that I was just coming from an entirely different perspective, because I’m now one of the oldest members to be here, and we have a lot of new members,” he said. “I’m more than willing to help guide them, but they need to own it now. It’s theirs.”
McDaniel has already started taking over Carr’s duties in Senate. He is a fifth-year senior political science major who worked as an assistant news director and the business manager for KCOU. He was also a senator and the vice chairman for the Board of Elections Commissioners during the fall 2015 MSA presidential election.
He said he would not be surprised if students saw his work with the BEC negatively due to this past fall’s controversial election cycle.
“That’s something I have to accept,” he said. “I accept that there were failures in the BEC this year. I have to showcase that my failures (taught me) lessons that I took from the BEC.”
McDaniel also wants to reestablish trust in the association after the resignation of former President-elect Haden Gomez. He said that opening up communication with students would help students begin to trust the organization again.
McDaniel invited any student who had concerns about MSA to reach out to him.
“I’m not going to be a perfect Senate speaker,” he said. “I am an imperfect person. I will make mistakes. But I also ask for the students and my colleagues to hold me accountable for those mistakes, as I will do with them.”
During Carr’s time in office, he also tried to build trust among students.
He said his biggest regrets were not reaching out to other student governments more and cultivating an “environment of friendship rather than responsibility” in Senate, which he said made controversial discussions more difficult.
“A year ago, I thought that friendship would make conflict easier, but friendship does not make conflict easier,” he said. “I thought that friendship was going to be able to have conversations about concealed carry and Planned Parenthood, but instead those conversations were silenced.”
Carr initially didn’t join Senate because he thought it was an “old boys’ club” and said he thought students “needed to know people” to join. He said at the time, the projects Senate committees took on were smaller in scope and often stagnated. He eventually ran as an at-large senator and then as an academic senator.
He was initially denied confirmation to his chairman position by the Operations Committee, but the committee confirmed him the next week. He said the committee had a historic problem denying qualified candidates to positions even when there were no better choices.
“The reasons I was declined were that people thought I was too emotional and combative,” he said. “The combative part was probably right, but combative in the way that doesn’t accept no for an answer.”
As speaker, he said that he has also performed additional roles such as handling Senate’s communications and scheduling events. He said some of his advice to McDaniel would be to delegate those sorts of tasks.
“I guess my job now is to bring Mark McDaniel up to speed, and to make sure he’s learned the same lessons I’ve learned in the next few weeks,” Carr said.
McDaniel’s plans for senate to include the development of a Senate communications team and recruiting. He wanted to rework MSA’s approach to tabling at Summer Welcome and make sure there was follow-up with students who made connections with the organization. Beyond recruiting new members, he also wanted incoming students to see MSA as an advocacy tool for them to use.
He also emphasized the importance of diversity of opinions in Senate, and said during the events of the fall, not all voices were heard. He said the best way to encourage that diversity would be to allow everybody to speak at senate and recruit a variety of voices.
“A number of students (felt silenced) and at the same time, a number of people felt ridiculed, and that’s not what you need in public discourse,” McDaniel said. “Every opinion, every voice should be heard, and MSA is the best place to start that.”
Edited by Waverly Colville | firstname.lastname@example.org