Julia Wopata reflects on her year as MSA president

As her term comes to an end, Wopata reflected on things her administration accomplished, including holding officials accountable about mental health and becoming more transparent to the student body.
Former MSA President Julia Wopata. Courtesy of msa.missouri.edu

Julia Wopata is proud of what her administration has accomplished during her term as Missouri Students Association’s president.

Wopata said a significant part of her platform when she ran for office was making mental health services at MU more accessible. This past year, Wopata said her administration has collaborated with Vice Chancellor Gary Ward and sat in on interviews for the new interim director for health and well-being.

She also said her administration succeeded at holding MU’s administration accountable on things they promised students, such as shorter counseling wait times.

“We talked to the Counseling Center about the myth that students have to wait for three to six weeks for an appointment, and we were wondering if that was still the case,” Wopata said. “We were just holding them accountable because students really do want this promise of one to two weeks for a waiting time.”

Having a more diversified counseling staff was something Wopata wanted when she ran for the position. She said progress has been made but also noted that decision-making in this scenario comes down to MU’s administration.

Being more transparent was one of Wopata’s goals for her administration and she feels that her staff has improved greatly.

“I have to think from my perspective that I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people that this is the best relationship in the past few years that they’ve had with exec and senate, and that’s really comforting for me to hear,” Wopata said.

She said she noticed halfway through her term that her administration wasn’t vocalizing to the entire student body what they were doing. In response, they started releasing a monthly newsletter to lay out what her administration and senate was doing. She hopes that incoming president Jennifer Sutterer and vice president Mary O’Brien will continue to do that.

Wopata said one of the things she was most proud of was partnering with MU Athletics and having Keyon Dooling come to campus and speak about his experience as a professional athlete with mental health issues.

“We might not have a direct hand in getting a counselor hired, but we are able to foster a conversation about mental health,” Wopata said.

Wopata said her advice to the incoming administration is to go out of its way to talk to people even if it makes them uncomfortable.

“Put yourself in what you think will be uncomfortable situations and ask people not what they can do for you but about their lives and experiences,” she said.

Edited by Ethan Brown | ebrown@themaneater.com

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