Editorial: MSA presidential report card: Mason Schara and Kelsey Haberberger
The Maneater assesses the collective terms of our past two presidents, including their transparency and the effectiveness of their programs.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Maneater editorial board.
Feb. 18, 2015
Juniors Payton Head and Brenda Smith-Lezama were sworn into office Jan. 31. As Head begins his term, we take a look back at our last two Missouri Students Association presidents, Mason Schara and Kelsey Haberberger, and assess their terms in the five areas we feel best represent their time in office.
A major part of the MSA president’s job is to connect with students and keep them informed on the issues that affect them. While Schara and Haberberger didn’t do poorly in this regard, they didn’t necessarily do well either. During the 2013 MSA presidential election, Schara said a primary problem with MSA that made him angry was the disconnect between MSA representatives and the student body. He said he wanted to resolve this issue, but we didn’t see any solution to this problem arise in neither his nor Haberberger’s terms. Neither of them actively communicated with the student body on a regular basis, nor did they fully take advantage of their ability to send mass emails to all the students. However, we must admit we saw an improvement of the relationships between MSA and smaller student organizations, so we applaud both Schara and Haberberger in that regard.
Schara and Haberberger also faced issues when it came to student advocacy. When a open forum on East Campus parking was held in March 2014, students failed to show up en masse with only a smattering of MSA members in attendance, including Schara. MSA conducted a successful survey that was helpful in finding out how students felt about East Campus parking; however, we felt Schara did not successfully rally students behind their intended mission.
We applaud Schara’s efforts in the continuing push to remove the Columbia Missourian’s online paywall. While we cannot necessarily attribute the end of the paywall directly to Schara, we appreciate his continued efforts in making the paper more affordable for students.
One of the four pillars of Schara-Haberberger’s campaign was “transparency,” but the complete lack of transparency seen in their terms was disappointing, to say the least. The best example of this problem was their handling of the 2014-15 MSA budget.
In February and March 2014, Haberberger refused to share the details of the budget to almost anyone, including MSA members. When the draft was finally presented in front of the MSA Senate, Haberberger had to rush through several spreadsheets in only a matter of minutes. The budget was finally shared when The Maneater filed a Sunshine Law request for documents. This complete indifference toward transparency is unacceptable in any institution including MSA. Haberberger’s limited time to share the budget is no excuse for this blatant disregard of transparency.
The programs enacted under Schara-Haberberger’s terms were relatively well-executed. Most notable among these programs is Enough is Enough, the sexual assault awareness campaign. While the program slightly suffered from a late rollout, Enough is Enough successfully caught students’ attention and helped inform them on an important topic. Several members of MSA stood in Speakers Circle to get students to sign their pledge to stop sexual assault.
However, we noticed a lack of programming regarding a very important issue for students. For the entirety of the first semester, students expressed their outrage regarding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and held multiple protests and events in response. MSA, however, did not effectively use their resources to reach out to students about this issue. No events were created, no forums were held and there was nearly no reaction of any kind from MSA. It’s unacceptable for the student leaders to be silent on such divisive issue. While we were proud to see MSA taking a stand against sexual assault, we expected more from the student government of the flagship university of the state in which this tragic event occurred.
Both of these presidents had a lot of heart and a lot of ideas, but they lacked the leadership and organizational skills required to fulfill all of these ideas. With all of the time constraints they faced, they should’ve made their efforts more focused.
MSA’s executive cabinet was relatively effective and well-rounded in their individual skillsets. Myles Artis was a good chief of staff and worked very closely with Schara during his presidency. Sandy Patel, as secretary of auxiliaries, was able to create strong relationships between MSA and their auxiliaries during her term. Chelsea Fricker did a great job managing the many responsibilities that come with being Director of Student Activities. Together, however, we felt that the executive cabinet was incredibly exclusive and had trouble communicating well with Senate. We would like to see more inclusivity and openness from our new executive cabinet.
But there was one event created by DSA that the cabinet had to have known was incredibly problematic: the “Seis de Mayo Fiesta.” This event was incredibly offensive towards Mexican culture, and it was revealed that while members of DSA and MSA could have and tried to stop the event from occurring, the event was merely moved and went on as scheduled. While we recognize that this event is not reflective of every member of the executive cabinet, we know that this event could have been prevented by members of the cabinet, which is well worth mentioning.
PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION: B+
Haberberger was put in a very difficult situation when Schara announced his resignation at the end of July. Both Schara and Haberberger were very open and transparent throughout the whole transition. Haberberger was facing a packed schedule in the following semester, and she clearly didn’t know early on that this would happen. It took a great amount of bravery for her to step up to the plate as she did, and we applaud her for her courage.
It was a difficult semester for Haberberger and the executive cabinet. With all of the changes that had to occur because of Schara’s resignation, Haberberger basically had to start off this semester from square one with a new cabinet and a new plan. Keeping the momentum of the previous semester going was a challenge that was never quite accomplished this semester.
Schara and Haberberger were full of bright ideas and ambition when they entered office in early 2014. But while they excelled in enthusiasm, they fell short in leadership as their efforts in outreach never materialized and their disregard of transparency was obvious to all. While they were mostly successful in their programs and had a strong cabinet, they don’t make up for the shortcomings of their term.
Final grade: C GPA: 2.4