MSA collaborates at SEC exchange
Representatives who attended plan to implement new strategies in outreach and involvement.
Aug. 26, 2015
Members of the Missouri Students Association executive cabinet attended the SEC Student Government Association Exchange at the University of Alabama to engage in brainstorming with 13 other universities July 24-26.
The exchange aims to facilitate collaboration between SEC student governments so they may better address problems at their respective schools. MSA President Payton Head, Senate Speaker Kevin Carr, Campus and Community Relations Chairman Syed Ejaz, Academic Affairs Chairwoman Tori Schafer, Interim Chief of Staff Kelcea Barnes, Secretary of Auxiliaries Sean Earl and Co-Director Department of Student Communications David Wallace attended.
“The exchange is meant to bring together different schools in the SEC to discuss topics related to students’ wants and needs,” Carr said. “If there is a major breakthrough at any school, there is a breakthrough in the SEC, because we address the issues, see if there are any solutions and share them collectively.”
Seminars at the exchange included mental health, campus safety, student engagement and finances. Head lead his own seminar on diversity and inclusion.
“Payton has a really strong social justice background, so diversity is what he went for,” Schafer said.
The intent of these sessions was to give student governments a chance to drum up ideas before the start of the school year. While previous exchanges took place in January, this year’s occurred in July to prepare members for the beginning of the school year. Participants from MU said the exposure to other schools’ operations allowed them to reflect on their own.
“I attended the mental health session, and at a cursory glance, Auburn has one of the best mental health services around,” Carr said. “At Auburn, each student is entitled to 10 counseling sessions before they have to go to go to another counselor.” At the MU Student Health Center, students are only allowed three sessions per semester before they have to go outside the university for help.
Discussions with other student governments also allowed members to pinpoint problems common among all student governments. One such issue is student involvement. Wallace says the exchange offered many ideas to improve the MSA in that area.
“I believe the most significant changes will be with student engagement,” Wallace said in an email. “Increasing student engagement was an issue student governments throughout the SEC are facing. From the group discussion I attended, there are several ways we can do this, through events, social media campaigns and other programming.”
While the attendants left the exchange with many ideas, no changes have been finalized yet – the first opportunity for the MSA to sort through the possible improvements will come with the first committee meetings on Sept. 1.
“My biggest takeaway was that the MSA has so much room to improve,” Schafer said. “I believe we’re doing a good job, but there’s so much to learn, and I’m looking forward to seeing more involvement in initiatives as a part of the SEC.”