MSA candidates talk trayless dining, application cap with RHA

One candidate has lived in Johnston Hall for four years.
Missouri Students Association presidential candidate Joe Fessehaye and his running mate Lindsey Abell discuss their opposition to trayless dining halls during a Residence Halls Association question-and-answer session Monday. Presidential candidate Jordan Paul and his running mate Colleen Hoffmann support the measure.

The Residence Halls Association held a question-and-answer forum for the Missouri Students Association presidential slates Monday night.

Candidates answered questions submitted by representatives of residence halls and were allowed two minutes to respond to questions posed to all of them and one minute for questions posed to a specific candidate. The forum differed from last Monday's debate, not allowing rebuttals from the candidates.

The candidates began by taking turns introducing themselves and their platforms. Presidential candidate Phyllis Williams, a self-described "Johnston woman," because of her four years living in the residence hall, introduced her campaign as the no-platform campaign.

"I feel that the position of MSA president has been lost in translation over the years," Williams said. "I see the position as the chief liaison and advocate for students."

Williams' running mate Jonathon Snipes was out of town on a job interview and could not attend the forum.

Presidential and vice-presidential candidates Jordan Paul and Colleen Hoffmann spoke of their experience and described the main points of their platform: sustainability, efficiency and safety. Paul said his platform was "organic" and has changed since the beginning of the campaign as they've met with more student groups.

"I don't think you have to choose between being an advocate and having a platform because you can have both," Paul said.

Joe Fessehaye and Lindsey Abell called for more transparency of MSA in their opening statements. Fessehaye said he'd like to use MSA auxiliaries, such as KCOU/88.1 FM and MUTV/Channel 23 to help give students a better idea of what MSA does.

"I think students should have better knowledge of the way MSA operates and what they do," Fessehaye said.

When a student asked what the biggest single issue of their platform was, Paul said though safety was the biggest general umbrella issue, the creation of a sustainability coordinator would be the issue that would provide the single biggest chance to improve the campus.

"The creation of this position would save on electricity and heating especially," Paul said. "Tuition is rising and the university should be doing all it can to cut down costs for students."

The candidates also discussed whether there should be a resolution passed to cap or curtail freshmen applications.

"I absolutely do not support a resolution to curtail freshmen applications at MU," Williams said. "MU is a land-grant university and it exists to serve students of Missouri."

Fessehaye said he didn't see a problem with the growth of the campus as long as the facilities were well kept. Paul said dealing with increasing applications is a "balancing act" and there isn't a solid answer to the problem.

"We are a land-grant university but so are many other schools that have capped their freshmen applications and that hasn't stopped them," Paul said.

When confronted with a question regarding his lack of time spent in the MSA Senate, Fessehaye said all the candidates were running for a position they had never served in before and he didn't feel his opponents were any more qualified than he was.

Williams said that though she was without a platform, it would help rather than hinder her ability to benefit RHA.

"RHA can help me develop a platform that fits their needs after I'm elected," Williams said.

The candidates also discussed trayless dining, a topic that sparked debate between the candidates last Monday. Paul said trayless dining, which he has made a part of the sustainability portion of his platform, cut waste by 20 percent at Ohio University and has the potential to have a similar effect at MU.

"Trayless dining is a great idea, but it needs to be a phase-in," Hoffmann said. "We might start in one dining hall and get student feedback before we decide what to do from there."

Although Williams said she was "all about having a green thumb," she and Fessehaye also said there were problems that could come from dining halls without trays.

"Trayless dining has resulted in dirtier dining halls at other universities," Williams said. "Also, our ceramic plates and dishes are not meant for trayless dining and can become very hot, which can be a danger to students. However, I'm not opposed to trayless dining. I'd like to talk to students and see what they think."

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