MSA presidential slates differ on diversity plans
Each slate has different plans to address diversity on campus.
Oct. 12, 2012
Spencer Maass and Shelby Catalano, one of three Missouri Students Association presidential slates, plan to support various diversity initiatives if elected.
Maass said they plan to continue support of One Mizzou Week and they hope to educate the student body about diversity.
“As MSA President I would make an effort to educate the student body not to fall into the trap of diversity equality, meaning that when you encounter a person with different identities and experiences than yourself the reaction you have should not be, ‘We are from different walks of life, but that is okay we are still equals,’” Maass said in an email.
Maass continued, saying he hopes to teach students that diversity should be recognized, not ignored.
“Instead when encountering a person with different diversity than yourself, you should embrace the experiences and identities that make each person different than the other and acknowledge that those experiences and identities are what defines each individual,” Maass said in an email. “In this way, each person still has their diversity and can additionally coexist as equals.”
He said in the email that he recognizes that MU students come from all walks of life and that One Mizzou Week would be one way to celebrate this diversity.
He also said he would rely on speakers like LGBTQ Resource Center coordinator Struby Struble to assist in educating the student body about diversity.
Rather than just race, Tom Wright and Bo Mahr realize diversity includes differing aspects of the MU student body. Religion, sexual orientation, gender and more all belong to the term, Wright and Mahr said.
Their shared belief is reflected in their platform for diversity. Presidential nominee Wright said the slate, if elected, wants to implement numerous themed weeks that are joint efforts between MSA and organizations that promote diversity.
“For those groups that do have weeks and those who don’t have weeks, MSA has the resources to partner with them,” Wright said.
One Mizzou Week, currently in its first year, would still remain under the Wright/Mahr platform. It would, however, play a more cumulative role by capping off a series of weeks raising awareness for different groups, Wright said.
International students are also included in their platform. As an MSA senator his freshman year, Wright worked with international students in getting them acclimated with MU and American culture. Wright wants to take steps to have them included more, he said.
Vice presidential nominee Mahr argues that their platform includes changes that stray from the path the other slates base their platforms on. Regarding diversity, the other slates are complacent in what they want to do, Mahr said.
“The people that I talk to have no idea that MSA is involved with anything,” Mahr said. “We have to change something and the other slates are not proposing any changes.”
Nick Droege said although he and Zach Beattie are only two people, they will work to represent the diversity of the entire student body.
One point is expanding the definition of diversity on campus. The slate is focusing on helping those from different socioeconomic backgrounds by implementing a business-attire lending program and $500 emergency loan program.
Through their experience with various organizations like MSA’s Tiger Pantry and the Mizzou Unity Coalition, Droege and Beattie have created connections with diversity organizations. Beattie said their experience would allow them to represent a larger population of the student body.
Also, Beattie said this experience with other organizations means they already know what programming exists so they can focus on helping those organizations rather than trying to do the work for them.
“It’s important to us that we don’t establish things that have already been done or that already happening within communities,” he said. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”
Some questions about diversity arose at the presidential debate on Wednesday, when MSA Director of Communications Zach Toombs brought up the issue of gender-neutral housing.
Currently, Droege is in favor of gender-neutral housing, but he voted against it in April of 2011, according to a previous Maneater article.
Droege said he has always been in favor of gender-neutral housing, but at the time, he did not have sufficient information to vote for it.
“I didn’t want to say yes to something that when I asked questions, (such as,) what are the checks and balances and what are the different logistics to make sure that students are safe, there (were) no details,” he said.
Droege said Residential Life has done enough research now that would make him vote for gender-neutral housing.