Senate resolution to endorse Phillips dismissed

During full senate, the MSA adviser Farouk Aregbe also spoke out against the resolution.
Portrait of Chad Phillips. Courtesy of Chad Phillips

The Missouri Students Association Senate mulled over whether or not MSA had the power to write endorsements for City Council candidates during the last full Senate meeting on March 18.

Senior Chad Phillips, the former Campus and Community Relations Committee chairman, announced his candidacy March 18 as a write-in for the First Ward seat for Columbia City Council. Phillips is one of two MU students running in the April 7 election, along with senior Jake Loft.

Current CCRC chairman Syed Ejaz authored Resolution 54-35, which states that MSA formally endorses Phillips for the position, and proposed it to the full Senate.

After much debate, Ejaz eventually dismissed his own resolution, and there is still no clear answer to whether or not MSA should write endorsements.

A resolution presented to the full Senate earlier this semester by former Operations committee chairman Nick Schwartz was tabled because senators felt it too closely resembled an endorsement for a slate in the most recent Residence Halls Association presidential election.

The main intention of Ejaz’s resolution was to initiate conversation about whether or not MSA should endorse candidates. This campaign was used as a way to do so, said Phillips, who was present at the last full Senate meeting.

The MSA Bylaws present no restrictions to candidacy endorsements outside of MSA. The disagreements between senators centered around whether or not it was the right thing to do.

Several senators spoke both in favor of and against the resolution.

Senator Abby Ivory-Ganja made a speech in affirmation of the resolution.

“I think we do have the power to make endorsements,” Ivory-Ganja said. “We should have a productive discussion about who we should endorse for each position. It needs to be looked at by a case-by-case basis, but having those conversations will create stronger awareness of who we are and what we can do.”

Senator Amy Wasowicz, who serves on the CCRC, disagreed. She mentioned that if Phillips lost the election, it might hurt MSA’s relationship with City Council.

“Passing a resolution wasn’t worth jeopardizing the relationship that we’ve worked so hard to build with City Council,” Wasowicz said. “I wanted to get that across to other committees that don’t work as closely with City Council and don’t quite realize the impact that this could have.”

Phillips himself had almost nothing to do with the resolution that bore his name. He said Ejaz came to him with the idea to use his campaign to start the conversation.

“Syed just viewed it as an opportunity to have this discussion with me being directly related to MSA and running for office,” Phillips said. “I think Syed saw it as if there was ever a time where we should be talking (about endorsements), it should be now.”

During full Senate, MSA adviser Farouk Aregbe also spoke out against the resolution. He suggested students take action instead by actively spreading awareness of Phillips’ campaign instead of passing a resolution.

Phillips said he hopes this resolution will continue to inspire important conversations about the MSA Senate’s power in the future.

“It was a good discussion and hopefully something we can implement in the future because as former CCRC chair it would’ve been huge to have endorsed a candidate,” Phillips said. “That motivates candidates to really take a look at the student body and show us the attention we deserve as a percentage of the population.”

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