MSA hosts 2014 SEC Exchange

MSA collaborates, share ideas with SEC student governments

Dozens of student government executives and advisors from various Southeastern Conference universities arrived Friday at Jesse Hall, where members of the Missouri Students Association and Marching Mizzou greeted them.

MSA is hosting the annual SEC Exchange, a weekend of networking and idea-sharing between student government members.

An opening reception was held at Jesse Hall Friday night, where delegates were welcomed by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs.

“I think what you will find out over the next (two days) is that we’re doing some great things here for our students,” she said. “I want you all to be sharing great ideas and your great successes.”

Scroggs anticipates the conference will allow MSA and other delegates to brainstorm ideas about student government.

“I think they’ll find out that a lot of our institutions are alike, and I think they’ll find out from some of the different ways they can tweak programs and make them Mizzou’s,” she said. “This is a terribly valuable experience, and I expect very rich discussions all weekend.”

On Saturday, delegates and members of MSA will participate in breakout sessions and presentations, MSA’s Director of Student Communications Gunnar Johanson said.

“This is a conference where ideas such as Tiger’s Pantry, Truman’s Closet and STRIPES are presented,” Johanson said. “I think it’s going to be a really good weekend of (sharing) ideas, initiatives and helping each other out.”

Programs like Truman’s Closet were among ideas discussed at the 2013 SEC Exchange conference.

“We have something very similar to what Mizzou has, called Crimson Closet, where we provide students (with) business attires free of charge,” said Brennan Johnson, chief of staff of student government of the University of Alabama.

Crimson Closet has successfully distributed roughly 1,000 articles of clothing to students over a year, Johnson added.

Brad Smith, the student government adviser from Auburn University, noted that one of the biggest challenges his students tackle each year is football game-day experience, including stadium seating arrangements and other logistical issues.

“It’s something we’re all excited about in the SEC, so it’s important to talk about,” Smith said. “I’m sure we have some similar issues, and some unique issues as well, so it’ll be a fun opportunity to help each other through those.”

When asked how the University of Georgia’s student government differs from much of its counterparts, Vice President Uzma Chowdhury said her administration takes on a more “bottom-up” approach, opposed to a “top-down” one.

“We have something called ‘open forum,’ where students can come tell us what they want and need,” she said. “We’re very open to working with real students and administrators and bringing everyone closer together while being more transparent and accountable.”

Other schools attending the conference include the University of Arkansas, University of Florida, University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi, University of South Carolina, University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University.

Texas A&M University was unable to attend due to weather conditions which prohibited air travel, Johanson said.

The conference will take place at varying locations on campus, such as the MU Student Center and Reynolds Alumni Center, and will conclude with a closing ceremony Jan. 26.

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