MSA outlines goals for new semester
“I’m less worried about projects with this committee and more worried about taking student issues to the people that can help us solve them,” MSA senator Tim Davis said.
Jan. 30, 2018
The Missouri Students Association is already in full swing this semester as it begins to outline its plans for the rest of the year.
Between unfinished projects from last semester, changes in leadership and the looming presidential election, MSA senator Dylan Cain believes the semester holds a lot of potential.
“There’s a number of projects, especially in the Social Justice Committee, where I’m sure a lot of relationships could be built,” Cain said. “I think that’s something we need to do as an organization a lot more, to branch out to other non-student governments. I feel like a lot of those places can be more efficient.”
Forming more relationships is one of the biggest goals MSA has this semester, as strategies like bringing in guest speakers proved helpful with projects last year.
“We established those relationships last semester,” Cain said. “It makes it 10 times easier to start new projects. Having that mindset, having that knowledge of what’s going on in the community is going to be incredibly helpful.”
An ongoing project for Cain and MSA is battling Columbia’s food insecurity problem, something Cain believes could be solved by making more outside connections.
“We’re still having a lot of our meetings for the food insecurity task force,” Cain said. “We are, again, forming those relationships. Relationships are key on a lot of this.”
A strategy Cain has been exploring to reach out to more people in the community is a brochure outlining the city’s lack of fresh and affordable produce, as well as the consequences food insecurity can lead to.
“It gives our students and potentially, in my mind, legislators or changemakers in the community, it can give them kind of the pitch as to why food-insecure communities in particular impact students and what a food desert status means for the student body,” Cain said. “That is a segway for another goal, which is to talk to our legislators, talk to public officials. These are the people that really have the resources and the contacts to make serious change.”
Although food insecurity is still a big problem in the community, MSA senator Tim Davis said the organization made big strides last semester.
“Where we really capped off last semester with is the student’s ability, if they’re having financial trouble, to still have access to food on campus,” Davis said. “They can either do that through Tiger Pantry or they can do that through financial aid.”
Last semester also involved maneuvering around budget cuts, as the organization proposed $103,000 in cuts for the 2019 fiscal year. Fiscal year 2018 included the cut of the Craft Studio, saving MSA $53,000 from the nearly $1.5 million budget, according to MSA’s 2018 budget. The cuts from last year and the work done by the budget committee last semester has pulled MSA out of its $180,000 projected deficit.
MSA has also been working with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, a student-based political advocacy organization, on student consent education. ASUM recently filed two bills in the Missouri Senate, one of which outlines consent education requirements, a cause Davis hopes to get behind.
“The ASUM legislation going through includes consent education in high school, which I know doesn’t directly affect us, but it does if you look at how high school students will transition to college with a better knowledge base of what consent is and what sexual assault is,” Davis said.
Other goals Davis wants to work toward include education funding, working with Tiger Pantry and campus safety, which MSA focused on last semester with the East Campus Safety Walk. What Davis really wants to put emphasis on, however, is getting out into the community.
“I’m less worried about projects with this committee and more worried about taking student issues to the people that can help us solve them,” Davis said. “I think that these meetings are great. They provide updates for us internally, and we always talk the talk, but I think that we need to get out there and do it.”
Leadership changes will also be a focal point this semester, with the sudden and unexpected resignation of former senate speaker Hunter Windholz. Taylor Tutin was elected senate speaker in an emergency senate meeting on Jan. 16, but Davis believes the change will not affect the organization’s goals.
“She’s always been a ‘if you have something, run with it,’ nothing-ever-gets-in-the-way type of person,” Davis said. “She’s always there by your side to help you out if you need it.”
Another shift in leadership will come later in the semester with the presidential elections, a process Davis hopes leads to a smooth term and a guarantee that projects get finalized.
“I think the biggest goal is the transition period has to be smooth, and we have to ensure that our projects continue because it feels like every year we’ll hit summer break and we come back in August and it’s like we totally wiped the slate clean,” Davis said. “We just take up new things. I think that as the semester ends, we’ll be having projects that might be almost at their apex, but they just need to be brought to the finish line. We need to make sure we are continuing to do that.”
Edited by Skyler Rossi | firstname.lastname@example.org