MSA Senate confirms Steven Dickherber as first LAO

The newly created Legislative Advocacy Officer was created as a liaison between MSA and ASUM.

Steven Dickherber was confirmed as the first legislative advocacy officer of the Missouri Students Association on Wednesday.

The newly created position is designed to facilitate contact between the MSA and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, according to the MSA website. The LAO is also expected to keep the MSA president informed about local, state and national legislative issues that affect students.

“He has the experience, planning, connections and drive needed,” MSA president Xavier Billingsley said at the full Senate meeting on Oct. 3. “He is already into what we’re doing with ASUM currently, and we thought he’d be the best candidate for the job.”

MSA Director of Student Communications Zach Toombs said Dickherber’s long record of working with state and local government and his involvement in last year’s More for Less campaign prepared him well for the LAO position. Dickherber was one of the three directors of the campaign, which fought against Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposed 12.5 percent funding cuts to higher education.

Dickherber said it is important to keep students from being targets, and the LAO position will help to fight that.

“Overcoming that initial push back for this position was the biggest challenge I’ve ever had to face,” Dickherber said. “I’m really excited about it. I think that this position really solidifies that students will never again be easy targets. And hopefully that will reflect for millions of dollars for students, and it can reflect on the future planning of Columbia and the state of Missouri so that student are not forgotten.”

Beyond his work with the More for Less campaign last year, Toombs said Dickherber has been a major force in this year’s voter registration efforts.

“One of the most important projects that MSA has had a hand in this semester has directly benefited very heavily from Steven’s work: voter registration efforts,” Toombs said. “We’ve registered close to 5,000 students on this campus. That’s a breathtaking figure and that’s through the work of ASUM, MSA and Tigers Against Partisan Politics, but Steven has been one of the main people who worked on that project and he has been the main MSA liaison for that. He alone has registered upwards of 500 students.”

In addition to his work in voter registration, Toombs said Dickherber has been attending City Council meetings and giving MSA and the student body a presence there they haven’t had in the past. He also coordinated with ASUM to host such events as Girl Talk, the tobacco tax forum and the presidential debate watch party this week.

Dickherber said his main goal now as LAO is to prepare multiple students who will be able to take over his position when he graduates at the end of the semester.

“I think it is incredibly important and an incredible investment for students,” Dickherber said. “We spent about $3,000 on the More for Less campaign, and we restored over $25 million to Mizzou’s budget. This position is so vital for students to be able to know their student government is out there fighting for them.”

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