MSA discusses new legislation to strengthen their connection with students
Former Senate Speaker Kevin Carr: “Regardless of how tough those conversations are and regardless of how serious the topics are, we shouldn’t shy away from them.”
Feb. 29, 2016
The Missouri Students Association’s recent lack of transparency with the student body has led former Senate Speaker Kevin Carr to unveil a new piece of legislation that he hopes will change how MSA interacts with students.
At the full Senate meeting Feb. 24, Carr presented his legislation that would create a process for students to petition MSA in the same way that citizens can petition the national government. If passed on March 9, his legislation would mandate that MSA hear and issue an official opinion on any concern a student brings to MSA if that student has obtained a set number of signatures.
“The ultimate goal of it would be for people in Senate to realize that they need to take opinions that students have and then own them,” Carr said. “If we don’t do that then we’re not serving students. Regardless of how tough those conversation are and regardless of how serious the topics are, we shouldn’t shy away from them.”
Carr’s legislation was denied by Senate and sent back to committee almost immediately after it was brought to the floor. Carr was not surprised and said certain elements of his legislation needed to be reviewed before it passes. He plans on working out the details with the Operations Committee to redefine some of the legislation’s more “mechanical parts.”
Chief among these is the required amount of signatures a petition must have before it appears on the Senate floor. Currently, that number is set at 100, but this could change depending on what the committee decides.
“If we make the number too low we run the risk of having potentially frivolous things drop on our desk,” Operations Committee member Saad Malik said. “If we make it too high we run into the discouragement factor. It is a balancing act.”
The act is set to become a constitutional amendment, meaning it will have to be passed by Senate as well as voted on by the students during a referendum. Carr said it will not appear on the ballot during MSA’s special presidential election but might be present for the Academic Senator Election later in spring.
“There’s some discussion of whether or not we want this to be in the constitution because once something is on the constitution you have to undo it via another referendum,” Carr said. “If we put it in the bylaws it would be easier passed but it would also have the chance to be removed later. We need to give students a fair shake at understanding this.”
During the brief discussion that took place before the act was tabled, some senators voiced concern that Carr’s legislation could actually discourage students from bringing their issues to MSA. They said establishing a petition system with a set number of signatures could become an obstacle to students who want their voices heard.
Carr refuted these arguments and criticized MSA for not taking a stance on issues important to students such as concealed carry on campus and Planned Parenthood’s severed ties with MU.
“A lot of things we try to discuss get shot down in committees because no one wants to appear controversial if they don’t have to,” Malik said. “As a student advocacy group and a student government, we should be able to be the people that students turn to for political opinions or opinions in general about things that are going on campus. This forces us to do so.”
Edited by Waverly Colville | firstname.lastname@example.org