RHA hosts first MSA presidential debate

The three presidential slates discussed issues such as sustainability and accountability.
The Residence Halls Association hosted the Missouri Students Association presidential debate Monday in Chamber Auditorium. The debate allowed MSA members to attend and listen to presidential and vice presidential candidates advocate their positions about issues on campus.

The Residence Halls Association hosted the first Missouri Students Association presidential debate of the season Monday.

The three slates — Spencer Maass and Shelby Catalano, Tom Wright and Bo Mahr and Nick Droege and Zach Beattie — came together to debate and answer questions from students.

Among the central issues of the debate were sustainability, diversity, accountability, outreach, the MSA budget, campaign spending and LGBTQ equality.

In relation to diversity, the candidates discussed One Mizzou Week and how to help all students feel comfortable.

Beyond supporting One Mizzou Week, Droege said he and Beattie would encourage all MSA senators to attend meetings of diverse organizations on campus.

“If you’re not attending these other meetings and trying to tune into the different issues that communities face on our campus, then you’re not going to be able to sit down and honestly say that you made a reflective decision on the entire student body,” Droege said.

In contrast, Wright said he and Mahr would prefer to focus on facilitating diversity weeks such as One Mizzou Week.

“I think this is where you can see staunch contrasts between our slate and the other slates,” Wright said. “MSA has the resources to get out and help those diverse organizations. You can do things to help all students. This is something our slate is proud of — we want to bring diversity to all students, not just MSA senators.”

Catalano said besides supporting One Mizzou Week, she hopes to begin a “cross-campus orientation” that would encourage members of different colleges working together on projects and promoting each other.

Additionally, the candidates discussed accountability within their positions and the MSA as a whole. Wright and Mahr said they plan to propose cutting the presidential/vice-presidential salaries to minimum wage, which would save MSA approximately $2,800 that could be used elsewhere. Additionally, Wright said they would have regular progress reports so students would understand what is being done.

Beattie and Droege said they disagreed with the proposed pay cuts because the students filling these positions put in long hours and deserve fair pay for the time they devote to the campus. He said that instead, to hold themselves accountable, they will have open conversations with the cabinet and with students to make sure they stay on track with their goals. He also said he and Beattie have already checked each of their proposed initiatives with administrators to make sure each initiative is something they can accomplish.

Catalano also agreed salaries should remain the same.

“Students are the ones who make the student leaders,” Catalano said. “You as students can actually hold all of us accountable for what we can and can’t do. At the end of the day, it’s us coming together, selecting a good cabinet, making sure our peers are working in contingency with each other and we’re doing our jobs properly and we’re doing it for you as students.”

In addressing other issues, each of the slates said it supports raising awareness of MSA and its functions, gender-neutral housing and the Mizzou Dashboard and other initiatives that will help make the school more sustainable.

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