MSA town hall addresses Mizzou Athletics tweet, student representation on campus

MSA used the town hall to learn about student perspectives on campus issues. Many students mentioned they were frustrated with MSA’s apparent lack of communication with minority student organizations.
One of the addressed issues at the MSA town hall on Monday, Nov. 11, was the controversial tweet released by the Mizzou Athletics Twitter on October 23, 2019. The tweet received backlash from social media after being called racist and the Mizzou account later took it down and apologized. Screenshot of the @MizzouAthletics Twitter

Students attending Missouri Student Association’s town hall voiced their concerns with specific issues happening in the MU community, like the Mizzou Athletics tweet, The Crossing’s transphobic sermon and the international student who was assaulted.

MSA hosted the town hall on Nov. 7 and made it open to all students and community members.

According to previous Maneater reporting, students were outraged by the tweet Mizzou Athletics posted on Oct. 23. On Twitter, they called the tweet racist and said it showed a lack of cultural awareness. And when The Crossing delivered a transphobic sermon, it prompted the RagTag Film Society to cut relations with the church.

The moderators of the event addressed all incidences during the town hall. But overall, students mainly expressed their frustration about the lack of communication from MSA and their lack of concrete plans to address these issues.

Doris Agwu, MU director of engagement, spoke during the town hall, calling for MSA to be clearer on the “action items” they have for improving student life.

“If the student body is saying that from 2015 to now they feel the same way on campus as they did then … then they aren’t feeling as protected or represented from organizations,” Agwu said during the town hall. “So if you can maybe share a little bit more on what those action items have been, what are the takeaways from those conversations, with a little bit more specificity that way more students here can get a little bit more understanding of what is to come."

Ryder Jiron, president of the indigenous student organization Four Directions, said he wanted to talk about the lack of communication during the event.

“I know, just from hearing a lot of the different organizations, that there’s a big concern of just a lack of communication, lack of reaching out,” he said. “Something that’s been going on a lot for us internally for a lot of our different groups is funding.”

Jiron also said that despite these issues, MSA has helped Four Directions in the past. Currently, it’s helping Four Directions with their plans for constructing an indigenous mural to display in the MU Student Center. He said MSA helped Four Directions move into the funding stage by proposing a financial plan.

Maya Hill, the MSA executive director of outreach, moderated the event alongside Mark Bremer, the MSA social justice committee chair. Hill said the frustrations mentioned during the event were valid.

“We definitely want to validate all those concerns,” Hill said. “We hear them and they’re definitely valid. I think moving forward, [the town hall] gave us a lot of important things to think about and a lot of important action steps to really add to that communication between the groups, but also add to our communication with the student body.”

One student asked how MSA is addressing the situation surrounding the Mizzou Athletics controversy. Hill responded saying that she and MSA are currently gathering and understanding student perspectives about the issue and that no concrete plans are underway yet.

“As we know more, we will make more available and we will establish those tasks for the student body and make sure they can hold us accountable and that we hold ourselves accountable,” Hill said.

The moderators emphasized that this town hall was a way for students to tell MSA what they want accomplished. Students mentioned how MSA can improve communication, either through a stronger social media presence or even a dedicated Canvas page.

Some other questions students asked were about what groups MSA has reached out to, how MSA advertises their events and how MSA can improve the representation of minority student organizations in MSA Senate.

“I think there was a lot of good ideas out here tonight that were expressed, and we definitely took notes on all of those,” Bremer said. “So it's going back in assessing what we can do, assessing where those priorities would be.”

MSA works with MU administration to address student issues on campus. Bremer said they have a two-way open door policy, where both parties have a solid and accessible relationship.

Edited by Izzy Colón | icolon@themaneater.com

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