Willett/Englert MSA bid aims to bring ‘Tigers Together’

MSA presidential candidate Nathan Willett: “We never played the politics, and we never want to.”

MSA presidential and vice presidential slate Nathan Willett and Payton Englert. Courtesy of Nathan and Payton - MSA 2017 GoFundMe

Nathan Willett and Payton Englert are running for MSA president and vice president under the slogan “Tigers Together” and a platform that focuses on mental health, outreach and collaboration with Greek Life.

Nathan Willett, the slate’s president candidate, and Payton Englert, the vice presidential candidate, both served on the Academic Affairs Committee in the Missouri Students Association for two years.

The slate’s platform has four main points, which are to stand up for the community, cultivate long-lasting relationships, bring more voices to the table and be a system of support.

Willett/Englert support the integration of Open Educational Resources, which include free online textbooks. In an interview, Englert clarified that these would mostly be used for general education classes and that “the challenge would be getting teachers to accommodate that.”

With regards to state legislation, Willett/Englert plan to invite state legislators to campus, as well as work with the UM System Office of University Relations and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri to lobby against Gov. Eric Greitens’ recent cuts to MU’s budget.

They will also push for the creation of an online education initiative to walk students through the process of earning Missouri residency, and they’ll work with the Sustainability Office to learn more about and handle environmental concerns voiced by students.

“We’re not the most educated on sustainability matters, but we’re trying to be,” Willett said.

Willett and Englert plan to hold a week of free giveaways and events to promote MSA auxiliaries such as STRIPES and The Craft Studio. They’ll also promote work-related events such as career fairs and workshops to familiarize students with available job opportunities.

Another major platform point is Homecoming inclusivity. Englert says the slate has already met with the 2017 Homecoming directors and want to make all four levels of Homecoming participation more accessible to smaller, non-Greek organizations.

Also related to Greek life, the slate wants to promote Greek chapters and individual members, according to their website.

The campaign’s platform includes several measures related to outreach. One is a couch they purchased and spray-painted yellow, which they hope to use for monthly “coffee on the couch” events in Speakers Circle. They also plan to have biweekly video updates, a “State of Mizzou” speech halfway through the term and monthly town halls.

Also on their platform is an ongoing Senate project to create a display of flags from all countries international students come from. Willett, who was the original author of the legislation last year, said the project was important so international students feel more included.

Willett and Englert said they wanted to create a cabinet position for diversity and inclusion to collaborate between MSA and diversity-supporting organizations, as well as launch education initiatives to spread awareness of these groups. That position, called the chief diversity and inclusion officer, already exists in the current administration, but is not a paid position.

They also want to require auxiliaries and MSA leaders to participate in Green Dot training, Safe Space training and Diversity Peer Education facilitations.

With regards to sexual assault, Willett and Englert have said they want to host events and increase education efforts. They have been critical of the state of the It’s On Us program under current vice president and presidential candidate Tori Schafer, tweeting, “Tori has done a great job working for It's On Us, but we think it takes more than writing 3 words on your hand and taking a photo.” However, when asked to provide an alternative to It’s On Us during the second MSA presidential debate on Feb. 27, the slate said they would instead continue the efforts of It’s On Us and plan a rally to raise awareness.

Willett/Englert have also been critical of Senate retention, which they attributed to too much “politics” in MSA. The body only has 47 of the 71 seats filled.

“People are not getting enough out of their time and effort and energy put into the association because of the politics being played,” Willett said. “And that’s something that we never played — we never played the politics, and we never want to.”

Willett says that lack of familiarity with MSA is an issue with many students.

“We were really fortunate, really excited when we started our petitions,” Willett said. “In less than 24 hours, we got twice as many signatures that we needed to get on the ballot and most of those people signing it had no idea what our student association is.”

Edited by Emily Gallion | egallion@themaneater.com

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