Seven stories likely to make news this fall at MU
After an eventful 2015–16 school year, this fall brings the possibility of more newsworthy events regarding administration and campus life.
Aug. 17, 2016
The 2015–16 school year made waves with many newsworthy events, from student protests to a controversial Missouri Students Association election.
Fall 2016 will be no different: the UM System will hire a new president and campus will keep talking about the boundaries of free speech, among other things. Here’s what you should be on the lookout for this fall:
The end of the interims
Following a nearly yearlong search, which has included conducting public forums and assessing and interviewing candidates, the UM System presidential search committee is expected to appoint the 24th UM System president in November.
After former UM System President Tim Wolfe resigned in November 2015 and Mike Middleton was appointed interim president, a search began to find his successor. Since January, a search committee made up of the Board of Curators, students, faculty and staff has been working with search firm Isaacson, Miller to find the next president.
MU also has multiple vacant positions currently held by interims, including the deans of the College of Arts and Science and School of Law, and chancellor, which has been held by interim Chancellor Hank Foley since former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned in November 2015. Searches for deans will begin early in the fall semester. The chancellor search will begin sometime after the UM System president is announced and could involve a nationwide search. Foley could be named the permanent chancellor.
Running low on money … and students
Once classes begin, the enrollment numbers will be finalized and the Division of Enrollment Management will report the actual numbers for the 2016–17 school year. With the budget shortfall, the 5 percent across-the-board cuts that Foley implemented will be in effect — for some students, this means larger classes; for some employees, this means layoffs. Because of the lowered enrollment, the Department of Residential Life closed four residence halls for the 2016–17 school year.
Can we say what we want to say?
The debate over boundaries for free speech on campus will continue this fall.
A committee composed of students, administrators and faculty members tasked with discussing free speech reaffirmed MU’s commitment to free expression, and they included specific regulations for scheduling events on campus in a draft policy about free speech at MU. The proposed policy also includes recommendations for mediating conflicts over free speech.
As a draft policy, the report will be the subject of discussions on campus in the fall as it’s critiqued and possibly changed before being adopted as an official policy. The policy proposal comes after a semester of questions about what free speech is acceptable on campus following protests in November that left many unsure of how MU should regulate free speech.
Bring out the big guns
Currently, you can’t carry a concealed firearm on campus. But several 2015 state legislature bills proposed to lift the ban. One bill that passed through the House in May would allow full-time university employees, but not students, to have firearms on campus.
Law professor Royce de R. Barondes’ lawsuit against the school over the constitutionality of the concealed carry ban sparked debate on campus. Barondes said the UM System’s rules against carrying a weapon on campus violate his constitutional rights. In April, the UM System countersued Barondes and said the rules against carrying weapons on campus are in place to create a safe environment, according to the Kansas City Star.
The case is ongoing, and the verdict has the chance to pave the way for new limits on gun regulations.
MSA rebuilds after controversial election
The Missouri Students Association, under the administration of President Sean Earl and Vice President Tori Schafer, will have an increased focus on transparency this fall.
This comes after a controversial MSA election when it was found that the winning slate of Haden Gomez and Chris Hanner violated Board of Elections Commissioners rules when their campaign manager, Natalie Edelstein, sent a mass text encouraging people to vote for Gomez/Hanner and Gomez used the app Pocket Points to advertise for the slate.
“(We saw) how much a group of individuals could tarnish an entire association that represents over 27,000 students.” Earl said in a previous Maneater article. “We wanted to get back to what we came into when we first started in MSA and that was the true spirit of service, advocacy and representing our fellow Tigers.”
Earl previously said that he believes MSA will not continue to tolerate members who want to use the organization just to advance their careers.
“(The) last election was the last phase of transitioning the group out that is focused on the titles and ambition,” Earl said.
Where we can live and park
Columbia currently has a housing development freeze in effect within a one-mile radius of MU’s campus until Dec. 1.
City Council passed the ban on building new housing complexes in May, citing the drop in enrollment and new student housing developments as reasons for the freeze. According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, some housing developments already in progress will be affected, but most demolitions will not be affected.
While the freeze is in progress, a Parking and Traffic Management Task Force will evaluate downtown parking options.
Multiple city officials have acknowledged that the current parking infrastructure does not support the number of people who want to park downtown, who are mostly students. The Parking and Management Task Force will examine new parking regulations being considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The commission is currently working on a new zoning code.
Graduate workers sue the UM System
Graduate workers are currently suing the UM System over the right to unionize and be recognized as employees.
In April, graduate workers held a union authorization election after having attempted to organize a union since fall 2015 when it was announced that graduate students’ health insurance would not be renewed, although it was soon reinstated for the school year. In the election, 84 percent of those who voted were in favor of being represented by the Coalition of Graduate Workers in collective bargaining with MU and the UM System.
An attorney for the UM System told CGW they would not recognize the election results. CGW filed a lawsuit in May against the UM System. A judge has been assigned to the case, and it is unclear when a verdict will be delivered, but the case will move forward throughout the fall.
Edited by Nat Kaemmerer | firstname.lastname@example.org