Top moments from the MSA Special Election debate

Voting will begin on at 8 a.m Feb. 29 and close at 5 p.m. March 2. The announcement will be held at Traditions Plaza on March 2.
MSA presidential and vice presidential candidates listen closely to Andrew Hutchinson's response to a question during the special election debate hosted by the Board of Elections Commissioners and The Maneater in Bengals Lair in Memorial Student Union on Feb. 18.

The new batch of candidates for Missouri Students Association president and vice president gave a glimpse of their plans Thursday night during a debate co-hosted by the Board of Elections Commissioners and The Maneater.

BEC is holding the special election after MSA President-elect Haden Gomez and Vice President-elect Chris Hanner resigned. Payton Head is serving as interim president until the election.

The three slates all support Concerned Student 1950 and range in level of experience with campus and student government.

The debate, which lasted over two-and-a-half hours, covered a variety of topics from social justice issues, their platforms, advocacy and more.

Here are five notable moments from the debate:

Different opinions about concealed carry on campus

State legislators proposed bills last year that would repeal the UM System’s ban on concealed carry on campus, prompting discussion on the topic.

Turner/Evans supports the right of students to carry guns at MU. As long as they “go through the proper steps of the concealed carry process,” they said MU students are adults and should be allowed to carry a gun on campus.

The Hutchinson/Ghuman slate blatantly disagreed.

“That’s ludicrous to me, and that would be my final thought as well,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson recalled the events that took place last semester when anonymous threats were made on Yik Yak. He said that he would not feel safe if guns were on campus during a similar event.

Schafer said she is comfortable around guns, but understands that not all students feel the same way.

Earl also said he would not feel safe if guns were allowed on campus, but said the decision should be left up to the student body.

MSA’s stance on Melissa Click

All slates agreed that MSA should not take a stance Melissa Click, but offered their personal opinions on whether or not the university should fire her for her behavior during the Concerned Student 1950 protests.

Turner said faculty members should be held at a higher standard, but also said that he appreciates that there are professors like Melissa Click who care about the students.

Hutchinson was sympathetic of Click. He said that Click was “scapegoated” by the media during the protests.

“You have to place what happened with Melissa Click in context with how protests are dealt with on campus,” Hutchinson said. “The media did not do enough to discuss those issues.”

Schafer said she did believe MSA should take a stance on Melissa Click and was critical of the state legislature for cutting MU’s funding.

“I don’t believe the state legislature should use (Click) as a poster child to cut Mizzou’s funding,” she said.

Defining “diversity” and “systemic oppression”

Toward the end of the debate, the slates were asked to each define diversity and systemic oppression. This question stems from a video of former UM System President Tim Wolfe being asked to define systemic oppression by members of the Concerned Student 1950. Former MSA President-elect Haden Gomez was also asked this question at the MSA full senate meeting, which lead to his resignation.

Earl said: “Diversity is just a different variety of people from different identities. I think Mizzou is very diverse. I think the issue that we have is an inclusivity problem. Systemic oppression deals with the institutions, systems or even individuals who operate on oppressive policy or systems and continue to perpetuate that.”

Hutchinson said: “One of my favorite historians Howard Zinn said ‘You can’t be neutral on a moving train.’ You could apply that to systemic oppression in saying that by being complacent with systemic oppression you’re not actually doing anything to solve it. You are in fact guilty of it. Systemic oppression refers to legislation, laws practices that either explicitly limit the ability of marginalized students to see or even feel comfortable especially on this campus.”

Ghuman said: “For diversity, I believe it’s a multitude of different identities. Not just ethnicity but also socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, ability and accounting for all those different experiences that are different from one another and noticeably the same.”

Evans said: “Systemic oppression is the concept of regulations and laws that are put in place that inhibit others from feeling included or the ability to succeed. I think the biggest problem with that is that a lot of people don’t know they’re there. Diversity in my opinion is the makeup and more importantly the different makeups of different cultural backgrounds and different ethnic backgrounds, within our university.”

Turner added to his running mate’s remarks.

“I grew up in a town of 1,800 people,” Turner said. “I wouldn’t consider it a very diverse place so when I came to Mizzou I was thrilled to be able to meet with so many different cultures and get to understand where they come from and what they’re about.”

Concerned Student 1950 involvement

All of the slates said that they supported the efforts of Concerned Student 1950.

Turner and Evans were the only candidates who had not participated in any of the recent movements on campus. Hutchinson had actually spent time at the Concerned Student 1950 campsite.

Hutchinson was also present at the Jan. 27 full Senate meeting, in which several activists associated with Concerned Student 1950 addressed Senate during open forum. He stood with them when they called for Gomez’s resignation during open forum.

Hutchinson said MSA’s lack of clear support for the group was the reason he decided to run.

"It is a very personal and emotional thing for me" to advocate for students with marginalized identities, he said.

When moderators asked whether the candidates had protested with the group, Hutchinson said he didn’t think the question should have been asked.

Ghuman said candidates shouldn’t “tokenize” their involvement.

How to fund the library fee

The slates had different stances on the proposed library fee, which was voted down by students during the 2015 MSA presidential election. The library fee was proposed by MSA as a means to improve MU libraries and increase the salaries of their employees.

Evans/Turner said they believe the student voice was well heard regarding the library fee. They would like to re-open the discussion for the library fee, but overall the student opinion is most important when it comes to this.

Schafer was the liaison for the library fee as the Academic Affairs chairwoman and said she was disappointed that the library is not in the top four things the university wants to fund. She says that when comparing MU’s library to Alabama’s, MU’s “doesn’t stand a chance.”

She believes the library fee was voted down because the students weren’t informed enough about it and would like to re-open the discussion.

Hutchinson/Ghuman believe that it shouldn’t be on the students to improve the libraries. Ghuman said that legislators should be responsible for increasing funding for MU.

Hutchinson adds that a main point of their platform is advocating for marginalized identities on this campus and students need to have access to these resources to be able to hear from diverse voices.

Voting will begin on at 8 a.m on Feb. 29 and close at 5 p.m. on March 2. The announcement will be held at Traditions Plaza on March 2.

Edited by Waverly Colville |

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