Editorial: The Maneater endorses Artis/O’Brien for MSA

The Artis/O’Brien platform, "Join In," gives us concrete plans for the future of MSA and the undergraduate student body.

The Missouri Students Association represents 26,996 undergraduate students at MU.

MSA controls a $1.6 million budget, advocates for students on city, state and national levels and helps optimize the student experience at MU. The MSA president and vice president are both charged with handling these extremely important tasks.

The leaders elected to these positions must be competent, engaged members of our student body who understand what is needed to improve our campus. They must be charismatic individuals who can inspire our students to participate and get involved with issues pertinent to them. They must be able to accurately represent our student body when in discussion with members of our student government.

Of the 2014 MSA slates, one stands out in all of these respects. Juniors Myles Artis and his running mate Mary Cate O'Brien have shown through their impressive campaign that they are most capable of representing our student body’s best interests.

We were impressed by Artis/O’Brien’s ingenuity in coming up with solutions to campuswide problems. They recognize important issues on our campus that need to be addressed and have already come up with new, creative solutions to them. This is an incredibly important quality to have, as it allows for a new way of approaching unsolved problems on campus.

Artis’ experience as MSA chief of staff has given him a deep understanding of how MSA works and how to properly serve as president. His approachable nature allows students to relate with him and not feel intimidated by his presence.

However, we would like to see Artis be more outgoing as president. We want to see him step up and begin engaging the community more. We want to see him make some significant progress, if he is elected. He has the ability to be an effective and decisive leader on campus, and we’re confident that when given the opportunity, he will work hard to advocate for students.

O’Brien is undoubtedly the most qualified vice presidential candidate running for MSA this year. She has the most experience working under financial restraints and has experience in MSA from her role as a court justice. We trust O’Brien to creatively cater to campus departments and programs. We’re more than comfortable having O’Brien handle the duties of vice president.

We recognize ways in which Artis/O’Brien’s PROWHL (Patrolling the Risk Of Walking Home Late) initiative could be problematic with regards to volunteer safety and retention. However, we applaud them for meticulously planning out this program, all the way down to what availability of volunteers would look like. Even if this initiative doesn’t come to fruition on campus, they have still shown that they possess the creativity necessary to come up with different solutions to difficult campus-wide issues.

Artis/O’Brien’s opponents, Payton Head/Brenda Smith-Lezama and Jordan McFarland/T.J. Hinch, have not shown the same kind of ability and ingenuity as Artis/O’Brien have.

We had a few problems with the Head/Smith-Lezama campaign. First of all, though we appreciate the wealth of ideas the slate presented, we believe that quality is better than quantity. None of them seemed as fully fleshed-out as the ones presented by Artis/O’Brien. For example, their idea to have all FIGs administer Green Dot training to their students, though noble, wasn’t thought out well enough. FIGs make up only 32 percent of all spaces in residence halls. Training at the Green Dot Conference takes 6 hours. So, we ask: How are you going to enforce this policy? How long will the training take? Are you going to have all FIG leaders certified? These sorts of questions involve the fine details that Head/Smith-Lezama do not seem to have worked on.

We believe Head is a promising presidential candidate. We applaud his efforts in reconstructing the MSA Social Justice committee and recognize his value as a leader on campus. We did not, however, feel the same way about his running mate, Smith-Lezama. Compared to O’Brien, we just don’t see her being as qualified of a vice president. She doesn’t have as deep of an understanding of the MSA Constitution as O’Brien. She also has less experience in handling budgets than O’Brien does and has not been in MSA since her freshman year.

Head/Smith-Lezama said they hope to fill potential gaps in the budget with outside funding, such as alumni contributions and asking other parts of the university for funding. Relying on these donations to fund significant portions of an organization so big does not seem realistic, and neither does relying on university funding in a time of budget cuts. We need a vice president who can find more concrete sources of revenue, and be more decisive with budgetary planning.

We were also less than impressed with their efforts toward transparency. Although the idea behind having “Coffee Chats” is nice, it’s a bit contrived when you think about it. These “chats” would be held in the Center for Student Involvement, which comes across as rather intimidating for students. Artis/O’Brien has a similar goal in which they plan to table on the main floor of the MU Student Center. Instead of asking students to come to them, Artis/O’Brien are making themselves more available and approachable.

We were disappointed with McFarland/Hinch’s platform. Although their campaign strategy utilizing social media has been somewhat effective, these two sophomores have little to no experience in MSA, and only have grandiose, vague ideas about what to do on campus. Hinch showed very little knowledge of the budgetary process, and student advocacy. McFarland had a basic understanding of what the position entailed, but his inexperience with MSA hindered his ability to come up with informed and realistic ideas. We encourage these two continue to get involved with MSA, learn the inner workings and become more informed on the issues, and then consider running again next year.

Artis/O’Brien’s bright ideas and approachable personalities allow for them to be a successful team, along with their extensive experience in their respective fields. Their efforts to invite students to “join in” are well-thought out and very realistic. We believe that Artis/O’Brien will do the best job of the three slates representing our student body.

We encourage you to vote at vote.missouri.edu between Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. and Nov. 12 at 5 p.m.

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