Editorial: With reservations, The Maneater endorses ‘More for Mizzou’ slate for MSA president and vice president

Although there are concerns about diversity and reproductive issues, it’s clear the “More for Mizzou” slate has the most comprehensive policy platform.

A previous version of this editorial reflected that The Maneater editorial board's vote took place on Wednesday, Feb. 26. The vote took place Sunday, Feb. 23. We regret this error.

The “More for Mizzou” slate for MSA president is clearly the most prepared to tackle the issues affecting MU students. Through extensively researched plans and a compassionate understanding of the issues, the slate has proven itself to be the best option for MSA president and vice president. No politician, local or otherwise, is without baggage, however. Although The Maneater is choosing to endorse Anthony Tretter and Kara Hjerstedt for MSA president and vice president respectively, we have to do so with reservations.

On most of the issues, the Tretter slate is running on a great platform. The slate, running under the title “More for Mizzou,” has placed great emphasis on mental health awareness, special education and sexual assault prevention. On these issues, there is no campaign better prepared to tackle the challenges. On others, however, they leave something to be desired.

Specifically, it seems the “More for Mizzou” slate is reluctant to make a clear stance on diversity issues. In the MSA presidential debate on Feb. 20, both Tretter and Hjerstedt were evasive in questions about diversity, often pivoting to other issues that they know better. We have concerns that this lack of preparedness may lead to a blindspot in their administration.

However, we would like to acknowledge Hjerstedt’s plan to instate a diversity and inclusion position within the MU Panhellenic Association. PHA currently has no such position, as Hjerstedt pointed out at the MSA debate. Despite this, the slate had little else to say on diversity issues.

Conversely, the now-defunct “Step Forward Mizzou” slate, led by Omobude Eke, came with impassioned responses on issues relating to diversity. It talked about reforming the “Citizenship@Mizzou” program and strengthening the institutions designed to foster diversity at MU. Although their slate’s proposals on other issues often came across as vague and half-baked, its impassioned rhetoric exhibited more authenticity than the “More for Mizzou” slate. Although the “Step Forward Mizzou” campaign dropped out of the race Wednesday, Tretter and Hjerstedt can take influence from them to work harder to better prioritize diversity on MU’s campus.

The Maneater believes in vetting. We endorse the “More for Mizzou” slate because we believe they have the most comprehensive platform with the best policy specifics. Their experience within MSA will help them govern effectively, but we also have to address their shortcomings.

The Maneater Editorial Board makes no apologies for vetting the candidates, even the ones we believe you should vote for — and there are plenty of reasons to vote for the “More for Mizzou” slate.

On sexual assault, the “More for Mizzou” slate has concrete plans to address the issue. They plan to work with MUPD to provide access to free drink test strips to MU students. These strips would be able to test for “date rape” drugs in beverages. This policy proposal could stop sexual assaults before they happen, making parties and social gatherings safer for MU students to attend. MU’s campus saw a slew of sexual violence last semester, according to previous Maneater reporting.

The slate also places emphasis on their plans surrounding special education. Taking example from the University of Tennessee’s FUTURE program, Tretter and Hjerstedt plan to add a special education curriculum to MU in an effort to aid students with intellectual disabilities in transitioning to adult life. The slate’s commitment to special education is commendable and we fully support the addition of a special education curriculum at MU.

At the MSA presidential debate hosted by The Maneater on Feb. 20, the slate seemed perhaps most passionate about issues surrounding mental health. Tretter and Hjerstedt understand that the mental health resources given to students are insufficient and need expansion.

The other slate still in the race, the “Tradition for Tomorrow” campaign, proved to be particularly weak on MU’s short-term mental health care model in the MSA presidential debate. Trey Cook and Alaina Vacante are the slate’s candidates for president and vice president, respectively. Cook’s response on short-term mental health care at MU was poor.

MU’s current model of short term care clearly isn’t working and is in need of reform. Students are afforded just three free counseling sessions in a semester, while also being capped at ten total. Other candidates on stage voiced their concerns and poor experiences with the programs. Similar experiences were published by The Maneater in a letter to the editor written by Ph. D. student Katie Rhodes. Mental health is among the most important issues facing MU students, and the “Tradition for Tomorrow” campaign’s poor responses on the topic are disqualifying.

The Maneater is endorsing the “More for Mizzou” slate for MSA president and vice president because it is best equipped to lead. Tretter and Hjerstedt are not rock-solid on every issue, however. The slate has problems that it must address and because of those problems, we make this endorsement with reservations. We implore both Tretter and Hjerstedt to prioritize issues of racial diversity and equity on campus. The slate has shown that it is the most capable of addressing the problems facing MU, but we call on “More for Mizzou” to use its experience to be a voice for all students.

The Maneater Editorial board voted on Sunday, Feb. 23, to endorse the “More for Mizzou” slate.

Edited by Leah Glasser | lglasser@themaneater.com

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