Slates come together in final debate before election

The slates emphasized heightened communication for MSA.

The second and final Missouri Students Association presidential debate kicked off yesterday at 5 p.m. in the Women’s Center. Hosted by The Maneater and Four Front, the debate focused on diversity on campus.

Moderated by Maneater Editor-in-Chief Ted Noelker, Student Organizations Editor Jill Deutsch and Four Front Vice President Tony Simpson, the debate consisted of the slates outlining their ideas regarding diversity while name-dropping numerous faculty and student resource centers.

Juniors Luke Blackburn and Connor Hickox began by saying they want to focus on as many underrepresented groups as possible, though they acknowledged that they do not have all the answers. Despite this, their eyes are still open to the issue, Hickox said. Blackburn and Hickox placed emphasis on their interaction with the Student Athletic Advisory Council and Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center. Their slate is the only one that mentions student athletes in their platform, they said.

If there was one buzzword to sum up the debate, it was communication. The slates hammered the point home by describing how connection and conversation with other organizations across campus would be key to achieving cooperative goals.

Juniors Zac Sweets and Zack Folk, said the easiest way to gauge the connectivity of MSA is to speak to each organization as MSA expands. Folk said they want to make MSA an avenue in which organizations can express their problems and concerns.

Mason Schara, whose running mate, Kelsey Haberberger, arrived late due to a scheduling conflict, said the slate’s focus is on international students, non-traditional students and other underrepresented organizations.

Schara said Summer Welcome for international students is vastly different to what domestic students experience. The welcoming experience could be improved, he said.

Many of the slates’ answers came back to how MSA could improve relations with underrepresented groups and organizations. Schara said he was concerned that students feel disconnected with MSA.

“There are so many people on this campus who feel they can’t come to MSA,” Schara said.

A higher percentage of MSA members are involved in Greek life compared to campus averages. At the debate, three of the six candidates belong to a fraternity. Haberberger is a member of a sorority.

Schara and Hickox do not.

Schara said we need to have an open mind when it comes to those in the Greek community.

Schara added that Greek or non-Greek, it’s important to ensure that all students are represented.

All slates praised One Mizzou, a young initiative that organizes a week of diversity programming. Students want One Mizzou, so it’s time for MSA, a major sponsor of the initiative, to decide where it is in that conversation, Sweets said.

The week has provided some incredible programming and has a place on this campus permanently, Blackburn said. Hickox added that their campaign’s slogan, “Unite Mizzou,” stems from the initiative.

The elected slate could face a budget cut similar in size to the $85,000 cut this fiscal year. Vice President Zach Beattie, who tackled this fiscal year’s cut, submitted a question on Twitter asking how each slate would handle one and how they would be able to represent the diverse array of MU students given such circumstances.

Each slate responded by saying that communication with auxiliaries will be critical in seeing how money will be best spent. Schara said getting auxiliaries to a point in which they are self-sustainable is one possibility, while Sweets emphasized efficiency in the organization.

As the debate drew to a close, slates gave their closing remarks, reminding the audience and the voters of their platforms and outlook moving forward.

Voting begins Monday, Nov. 11.

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