MSA candidates dodge DACA question during debate

Andrew Abarca, senior and member of Students for the Equal Education of DREAMers, was disappointed in each slate’s answer and hopes they educate themselves on the issue.

The first Missouri Students Association presidential debate Friday night in Ellis Auditorium received major social media attention for a question on the U.S. government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

The candidates were asked what they would do to help DACA students on campus. The policy grants certain undocumented immigrants a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation if they entered the U.S. before June 2007 and before they turned 16.

This summer, Missouri House Bill 3 passed, causing DACA students to lose in-state tuition based on their immigrant status.

The McFarland/Segers and Gomez/Hanner slates responded to the DACA question by discussing childcare on campus for student parents. The Ejaz/Parrie slate did not clearly answer the question.

Ejaz said MU and MSA market themselves “monolithically” and his slate would work to give everyone on campus a voice.

Jordan McFarland discussed friends of his who are parents. He said they didn’t feel they could come to MU because of a lack of adequate resources on campus.

“I’d love to work with the College of Education and see if there’s something we can work on together as early childhood education majors to help students who do have children,” McFarland said during the debate.

Jonathan Segers spoke on the topic of childcare and its affordability at MU instead of addressing DACA students.

Haden Gomez also did not address DACA. He said he didn’t see developing affordable childcare as an MSA project, but MSA could work with the Office of Admissions to encourage those programs and educate students about their childcare options.

Chris Hanner said he felt educating students on their options was a large part of the issue of childcare on campus.

“Perhaps that’s one of the biggest parts of this issue,” he said. “I’m on the student recruitment team at the university, and we’re not trained to handle somebody that would ask that kind of question, and perhaps we should be. So, it’s bringing this issue to the forefront, that’s where we need to start. We need to hear from people who’ve gone through these experiences and figure out how to move forward from there.”

Following the slates’ responses, various MU students and groups criticized the candidates for not appearing to know what DACA was.

Andrew Abarca, senior and member of Students for the Equal Education of DREAMers, said he believes the slates don't know what DACA stands for at all. Abarca said they all tried to go around the question.

“If the candidates truly do believe in the importance of social justice, they should have just said, ‘I do not know what this term means,’ rather than assuming what it is and getting it wrong,” Abarcas said.

McFarland/Segers and Gomez/Hanner explained their mistakes to The Maneater in an interview after the debate.

McFarland said he had only heard about DACA referenced as “undocumented student deferment.” He said he was completely wrong when answering the question.

McFarland said he believes MU doesn’t do enough as they can to aid those who want to study in the U.S. and offered working with Tigers Advancing Political Participation to encourage political participation as a solution.

Segers added that they have to get closer to the bigger picture of the issue and that the decisions the MSA takes on DACA will “echo in time.”

Gomez and Hanner said their answers show how they need to educate themselves about DACA. They say that they would work with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri to fully support all students to deepen their education, regardless of if they are U.S. natives.

Ejaz and Parrie could not be reached for comment after the debate.

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