By Aviva Okeson-Haberman

“MSA has looked like a bad episode of House of Cards for the past month,” MSA vice presidential contender Tori Shafer said in the Board of Elections Commissioners Debate. Schafer has been involved with MSA since her freshman year and was the Chairwoman of Academic Affairs.

Both Schafer and her running mate, MSA presidential hopeful Sean Earl, have extensive experience with MSA. In a normal election year, this would expected. This, however, is not a normal election.

The Turner/Evans slate has no prior experience with MSA. While Lydia Ghuman is the current Interim Chief Inclusivity Officer for MSA, Ghuman hasn’t held this position for long. Andrew Hutchinson has no previous involvement with MSA.

Both the Turner/Evans slate and the Hutchinson/Ghuman slate say their outsider status gives them an advantage when it comes to reforming MSA.

“My lack of experience…Allows me to think outside of the box and find solutions to problems that are not necessarily things that have been done over and over again,” Hutchinson said.

Turner echoed Hutchinson’s sentiment.

“We do want to make a difference and we saw this as a great opportunity to get involved in MSA and bring some fresh ideas and a clean slate to MSA in a time that they probably really need it right now,” Turner said.

Schafer says, however, that being involved in MSA is key to understanding how to change it.

“To be frank, we have a better knowledge of what’s happening in MSA. Being involved in MSA, we know where the problems are…When you want to come into an organization and fix it or bring it closer together, you need to know where those problems are at,” said Schafer.

Student Involvement

One of the main goals of Earl/Schafer is to increase MSA transparency and student participation. Earl/Schafer plan to hold town halls that would “allow MSA to hear from the students directly and make concrete steps to address their concerns.”

Students are currently allowed to attend MSA Senate Meetings, yet the turnout is low.

“Open forum in full Senate is very intimidating because you are sitting in front of about 50 students in suits and you don’t know any of them,” said Earl.

Earl/Schafer hope that a less intimidating Town Hall can foster student engagement.

In an effort to involve students, their platform also includes the idea of facilitating “presentations to Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs) within the residence halls.”

“FIGs make up 30% of all spaces in the residence halls,” according to MU’s Residential Life website.

Earl said that his campaign would work with the Residence Hall Association to reach students not involved with FIGs.

“The EmpowerMU slate is the only slate that has reached out in regards to establishing a relationship with RHA. Sean [Earl] and Tori [Schafer] used to be in RHA, so they already had a standing relationship with the organization.” RHA president Billy Donley said in an email to MUTV.

In addition to informing students about MSA, Earl/Schafer also want to “utilize the MSA Department of Student Communications to work with Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) to educate students about the events happening at the capital.”

“The only slate that has reached out to me is the Earl-Schafer slate. Tori Schafer is also an ASUM intern so she has done a lot for ASUM this year,” said ASUM Campus President Kate Hargis.

Partnership with Student Media

Earl/Schafer, like Hutchinson/Ghuman, want to work out with KCOU and MUTV to promote the work of MSA.

“No slates have personally reached out to me, our Communications Director, or our News Director about working with KCOU on any matters. I had pitched to Sean Earl the idea of promoting MSA when he was Secretary of Auxiliaries,” said General Manager of KCOU Kyle Norris in an email to MUTV.

Voting begins for MSA Presidential Election at 5 p.m. on Monday, February 29, and ends at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1 at 5 p.m.

Watch MUTV’s full length interview with Earl and Schafer here:

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About Aviva Okeson-Haberman

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