MSA presidential candidates discuss the budget
Funding is a central issue.
Oct. 20, 2008
This is the second part in a series looking at Missouri Students Association presidential slates and their platform positions. This issue focuses on the candidates' positions on the MSA budget. The vice president is responsible for performing all financial transactions and keeping all financial records. Thursday's issue will examine the slates' positions on campus sustainability. The election is Nov. 10-12.
Joe Fessehaye and Lindsey Abell said if elected, they plan to make budget decisions that would serve the best interest of the MU student body.
"Any moves to increase student fees will be discussed openly and alternatives will be sought before any additional financial burden is placed on the students," Fessehaye said.
Abell said she would make sure important parts of MSA, such as KCOU/88.1 FM, MUTV/Channel 23 and STRIPES, are still funded.
Fessehaye said he and Abell chose KCOU and MUTV as deserving of funding increases because they provide a creative outlet for students to voice their opinions. Fessehaye also serves as KCOU assistant general manager and chief operator. The pair chose STRIPES because Fessehaye said it is an important component of campus safety.
To deal with departments that go over budget, Fessehaye said he and Abell would make judgment calls on a case-by-case basis, rather than having one set rule.
"We understand the economy's unstable," Fessehaye said.
Presidential candidate Jordan Paul said one of the main reasons he picked Colleen Hoffmann as his running mate is that she's a finance major. Paul said this would especially be an advantage because of the vice president's oversight of MSA's budget.
Hoffmann said she's pleased overall with the way recent administrations have managed the budget.
"I think the budget has been run efficiently these past two years," Hoffmann said. "I don't think there's a need for any huge reform."
The expansion of STRIPES is a part of Paul and Hoffmann's platform, and the vice presidential candidate said she'd like to see the program's recent growth continue.
Hoffman also noted one significant change she'd make in office.
"I would compensate the director of the Student Fee Review Committee to decrease turnover and increase efficiency at the position," Hoffman said.
Phyllis Williams' vice presidential candidate Jonathan Snipes, a finance and banking major, said he believes his class work would prepare him well for the challenges of working with and evaluating the MSA budget. Snipes also acted as the finance chair for the Legion of Black Collegians for the 2007-2008 school year.
Snipes said if the SFRC chair becomes a paid position during the current administration, he would try to work out the budget and cut excess spending to support the position, possibly cutting a Senate clerk's position.
Snipes would like to see excess spending cut across MSA, especially in the Department of Student Activities.
"Not to cut all their funds, but eliminate excess spending in that department specifically," Snipes said.
He would like to tighten up their budget but still leave them room to operate and cover certain programs. In general, he would like to see a cutback in spending in comparison to past years. Snipes said he believes that tightening the budget could possibly create money allocated for KCOU and furnishing the new student center.
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Senate Speaker Jonathan Mays said he supports plans to pay the SFRC chairperson.
"Anything we can do to stabilize that position will be helpful," Mays said in an e-mail. He cited the SFRC chairperson history of the last two years, with both chairpersons accepting the job in the spring and then resigning before the start of the fall semester, as supporting evidence for his claim.
However, Mays also suggested that the salary money come from somewhere besides MSA, saying, "We don't want any bias in favor of MSA or any other group that receives student fees."
MSA Vice President Chelsea Johnson cited this conflict of interest as a reason why paying an SFRC chairperson is not a high priority, at least until the next fiscal year when the SFRC funds can move out from under MSA's jurisdiction.
In response to Fessehaye's plan to increase funding for KCOU and MUTV, Mays said he hopes auxiliaries such as these can follow STRIPES' lead of taking steps toward self-sufficiency.
DSA Director Rachel Parrish disagreed with Snipes' plan to cut excess spending in her department. Parrish said she does not believe the DSA has excess funding, and that it would be unnecessary to cut funding in their current position.
"Right now, the DSA is in a really, really good place," Parrish said. "We're planning a lot of events for a lot of different types of students and reaching groups we haven't reached in the past."
Parrish said DSA is also looking at bringing big shows and doing multiple smaller shows, and large budget cuts would limit the ability to perform these functions.