Editorial: The Maneater endorses Ejaz/Parrie for MSA

The Ejaz/Parrie platform, “Mizzou Together,” offers the most promising future for MU.

The Missouri Students Association is on an upward trend, owing much of its current momentum to the work of President Payton Head. In order to continue this trend, MSA needs another strong executive leadership with a mind for advocacy, accountability and transparency.

With confidence, we can say that the Ejaz/Parrie platform “Mizzou Together” can best fulfill these roles and best represent MU’s 27,654 undergraduate students.

You can hear the passion in senior Syed Ejaz and junior Heather Parrie’s voices when they talk about serving MU’s student body. Their approachable and authentic personalities coupled with a clear sense of direction and compassion motivate this endorsement.

The MSA president is the primary advocate for MU’s student body to our administration, to the city and to the state. In this regard, Ejaz is unmatched.

His efforts as the chairman of the Campus and Community Relations Committee has shown him to be a capable advocate for students in Columbia. At the state level, his work in Jefferson City as an intern for former State Rep. John Wright has given him a unique perspective of the inner workings of our state legislature. This perspective will be invaluable as we continue to face a state legislature apprehensive of funding higher education. We would be more than comfortable having Ejaz represent MU in these settings.

The other two presidential candidates, Jordan McFarland and Haden Gomez, do not have the same experience in advocacy and are not as convincing as candidates in this regard.

Of the many issues discussed throughout this year’s campaign, perhaps the most pressing was social justice. In a year of high-profile racist incidents on campus, such as events detailed in Payton Head’s Facebook post and in a letter detailing experiences of the Legion of Black Collegians Homecoming royalty court at Traditions Plaza, the candidates were challenged on social justice and inclusivity throughout the campaign.

Both Ejaz and Parrie have been social justice advocates before it suddenly became more popular preceding this year’s election. Ejaz was in attendance at the initial MU4MikeBrown protests last year, in addition to multiple Racism Lives Here protests during this year. Parrie serves as a Diversity Peer Educator and has been a member of the United Ambassadors, a minority student recruitment team.

Gomez/Hanner, on the other hand, became social justice advocates relatively recently. One look at their social media accounts shows that they only began to post about social justice, as well as campus issues in general, in the month leading up to the campaign. In comparison, Ejaz/Parrie have been members of this discussion on social justice and campus issues ever since they came to MU.

Still, this shortcoming could be looked past had it not been for the multiple missteps and blunders regarding social justice Gomez has made throughout the campaign. From calling sexual assault survivors “victims,” to not knowing what the policy for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is, to referring to those with mental health disabilities as having a “broken mind,” it’s clear that Gomez is out of touch with the student body he’s seeking to represent. While they did later correct themselves, this campaign shouldn’t be a learning experience in understanding basic terminology.

McFarland/Segers, both Social Justice Committee attendees, are well-versed in social justice. They’ve proposed that every elected or paid official within MSA be Green Dot and Safe Space trained and go through DPE facilitations, a feasible idea. However, because their “Mizzou 49” plan is exceptionally vague regarding its purpose, and their support for the diversity course requirement is matched by the other platforms, the McFarland/Segers platform does not have a clear and different sense of direction when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

Ejaz/Parrie have a similar plan regarding diversity training. They have proposed mandatory Green Dot training in residence halls for student staff and residents, which borders on being unrealistic. We have doubts about the feasibility of implementing this training, but they have acknowledged this. Their intent is to generate momentum for this initiative or another of equal effectiveness that will continue beyond their time in office, which is far more reasonable.

The McFarland/Segers platform also brought to the election a proposal to change the timeframe of the annual MSA election from November to April. Along with this change, they proposed changing the name of MSA to Student Government Association to better represent what MSA is and what it does. McFarland/Segers ought to be congratulated with the proposal to change the election period, as it is a good idea.

But, at the same time, Ejaz validly points out that renaming MSA to SGA would be a bad idea, as it actually misrepresents what MSA is. As he has said, MSA is an interest group, not a government. All that MSA can do is issue the student opinion and provide services in exchange for a student fee. This is without mentioning the logistical challenges that would come along with renaming MSA. As a result, we are inclined to agree with Ejaz/Parrie and Gomez/Hanner regarding the name change.

One of the most critical roles MSA plays is the allocation of a budget of more than $1.6 million, all of which comes from the student activity fee. The vice president, along with the Budget Committee chairperson, is chiefly responsible for balancing this budget.

When it comes to balancing the budget, Hanner is the most qualified person of the vice presidential candidates. He worked as MSA’s Budget chairman and secretary of auxiliaries on the Head/Smith-Lezama executive cabinet. However, throughout the campaign, Hanner surprised us. He has mentioned that the vice president, in the long run, shouldn’t be responsible for the budgetary process. In place of this, he has said that he believes a new treasurer position should be created on the executive cabinet and given this power. We have doubts as to whether this is a sound plan.

Segers hasn’t said much regarding his plans regarding the budget and hasn’t shown a depth of knowledge regarding the budgeting process and its composition.

Parrie does not have nearly as much budgetary experience as Hanner, but she has held her own regarding the budget. She understands that her role in the budgeting process is as a representative, meaning that her decisions should reflect the wishes of the student body, and is prepared to handle budget cuts. With this in mind, we would be comfortable with Parrie handling MSA’s budget.

We expect Parrie would balance her role in the budget with an advocacy role when it comes to campus issues, an important part of the vice presidency.

Unlike the other two slates, Ejaz/Parrie understand the limitations of the office and their own limitations as people. They aren’t afraid to admit when they’re wrong or don’t know all the answers. They answer questions with a sincerity and confidence that we haven’t seen from the other candidates. The combination of Ejaz’s involvement in MSA and Parrie’s experience with other organizations across campus work together to create a compelling platform with a promising future.

Perhaps most importantly, the years of hard work put in by Syed Ejaz and Heather Parrie have organically led them to this point. Their service will come before their pursuit of a title, rather than the opposite, and that’s the way it ought to be.

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