Three slates running in 2014 MSA presidential election
Two junior slates and one sophomore slate are running this year.
Oct. 14, 2014
Three slates have submitted paperwork to the Board of Elections Commissioners in accordance with the BEC handbook in order to run in the 2014 Missouri Students Association presidential election. The slates were required to gather 500 valid undergraduate signatures on their nominating petitions, which were due Oct. 9.
Sophomores Jordan McFarland and T.J. Hinch said their campaign platform is based on four key tenets: diversity, safety, tradition and student life.
“There are things that students talk about on a daily basis that aren’t being addressed or aren’t being addressed in the depth we think they should be,” McFarland said. “If it’s something the students are talking about, MSA ought to be talking about it, too.” McFarland said if elected, he hopes to be able to make tangible connections with the diversity groups on campus. McFarland is a former member of The Maneater staff.
“There’s this disconnect,” he said. “International student groups feel like they’re not a part of campus sometimes. If you’re about diversity seriously, you don’t just say you’re going to change something and have these big coalitions; you make structural changes. People come and go, but structures are here to stay.”
McFarland and Hinch also view changing structures as important to implementing the safety aspect of their platform. They intend to create a Twitter account for students to report broken lights and other trouble spots on campus in between the semi-annual Safety Walks in an attempt to reduce attacks and sexual assaults.
“A Columbia PD officer came to campus with this statistic: one out of every 90 sexual assaults is reported,” McFarland said. “Every time you see a Clery report, multiply that by 90. In an age where we’re supposed to have Title IX policies and where everyone is supposed to feel safe, how ridiculous is that? I may not be a woman, and we may be the only slate that doesn’t have a woman on it, but I will fight like hell until that’s not a thing anymore. It’s just not right, and it needs to be addressed continuously.”
Hinch said tradition is also an aspect of campus life often overlooked by MSA.
The pair said they would attempt to create a new tradition surrounding home football games involving a unified pregame walk to the stadium.
McFarland said he would prioritize student life and focus MSA discussions on topics that matter to students. Although he identified STRIPES as an auxiliary in need of improvement, he emphasized the value of an engaged and involved student body.
“We want to be less officials and more representatives,” McFarland said. “There should be open-door policies. There are 36,000 students who just want the absolute best. We want to do anything we can to make them feel more a part of their student government.”
McFarland said his passion for public service was an incentive for him to run for office.
“I love public service so much,” McFarland said. “I love working with students. It’s a passion for both of us. People say, ‘you’re sophomores’ and ‘there’s a mold’ for MSA candidates. We might not fit that mold. That’s exactly why we’re running.”
Juniors Myles Artis and Mary Cate O’Brien said they hope to make the student body more involved and inclusive, represented by their slogan “Join In.”
The three tenets of their campaign are action, service and unity. By combining these three goals, they said they hope to encourage students to make a change and give back to their community.
“We want students to give back to the university that invested in them,” Artis said. “Once we’re all united, we can prosper here at the university.”
Artis and O’Brien also planned a program called PROWHL, Patrolling the Risk of Walking Home Late, to help prevent sexual assaults. Trained groups of students at designated spots around campus will monitor the area, the candidates said. They will incorporate this program into the GoMizzou app and make it the sister program of STRIPES.
They said they also hope to increase awareness of Tiger Line, MU’s free shuttle service, to increase student safety at night.
Their campaign also addresses mental health. Artis and O’Brien said they hope to start a training program that educates students to recognize symptoms of mental health issues. They will work with Active Minds Mizzou and the MU Counseling Center.
“Mental health involves all people, no matter your race, gender or religion,” O’Brien said. “College is incredibly stressful, so we want students to be knowledgeable of not only their friends but of themselves.”
Another aspect of their plan is to work with the Office for Financial Success to set up an emergency fund for students who are forced to drop out of college for financial reasons. They want students to feel financially safe, they said.
The inclusion of international students is also an important part of their plan. Summer Welcome is only two days long, but the transition will become an ongoing process by expanding on the Women’s Center’s Language Partners program.
“It’s our duty as the student government to make all students feel accepted,” Artis said. “We want to make sure students are assimilated with American culture but can celebrate their culture at the same time.”
Artis and O’Brien said they believe they have good energy and spark because of their longtime friendship and their different perspectives, allowing them to exchange ideas.
“We want everyone to feel connected to our campaign,” O’Brien said. “We love people and our excitement will shine through. We’re here to serve the students, not ourselves.”
Juniors Payton Head and Brenda Smith-Lezama will be running under their campaign platform, “Ignite Mizzou.”
Head and Smith-Lezama said they want to ignite the fire and passion that MU students once had about the university.
At MU’s 175th anniversary celebration last month, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin gave a speech about keeping the fire going within students, and that is where MSA comes into play, Head said.
“Ignite Mizzou is igniting the fire we want to see in students because a lot of times we don’t realize we go to the greatest university in the country,” he said. “It is the 175th anniversary of Mizzou, so it’s our job to reignite that passion students once had for Mizzou way back in the day.”
Ignite Mizzou will feature four different pillars within the platform: pride, progress, truth and vision.
Head said the slate wants to redefine truth by making the MSA executive cabinet more accessible and “less clique-y” and by keeping students more informed about what MSA is doing.
“Students should know any and everything about MSA, and I believe that is where MSA has failed our student body,” he said.
Ignite Mizzou and its four pillars are not like past slates for presidency, and it brings a more applicable approach than traditional slates, Smith-Lezama said.
“One thing (Smith-Lezama and I) bring to MSA is that our platform doesn’t look like historical platforms you see in MSA,” Head said. “The things we want to accomplish are new and fresh, and we really took time to come up with (the four pillars) and choose words that students can relate to.”
One of the biggest parts of Head and Smith-Lezama’s campaign is their fight against sexual assault, in which they would like to establish a plan of action students can follow to stop the problem, Smith-Lezama said.
“We need to have action. We need to have steps we can follow to make this problem better,” she said. “At this point, especially with the ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign launch, it’s fueling people’s fire and igniting people’s passion to fight against these injustices, but at the same time, we need to have steps we can enact to hold people accountable.”