Isabella Ledonne: Can you tell me more about the platform you are running on for the 2019 MSA Election?

Jennifer Sutterer: We wanted to create a platform that’s inclusive and is aimed at solving a lot of problems on Mizzou’s campus, whether it be in Greek Life, other groups etc. A main point of our platform is college affordability and we also want to work with mental health services to make sure that students who are coming in have all those resources, because as we know, mental health is a huge concern coming into college.

Mary O’brien: One idea we had for mental health which would be a concrete way to move in the right direction is to virtualize [resources so that students] could sign up for counseling services online. Sometimes the hardest part is the first step, and it can be kind of intimidating to call someone you don’t know. We want to figure out some way to move in the right direction, to make sure everyone feels comfortable, everyone is included and everyone is moving in the right direction for their own health.

IL: How did you come up with your campaign slogan?

MO: We had a couple of them, we thought about it for a really long time and could not figure it out. We had lines of words [such as] “Tiger”, “Roar”, “Column”, trying to get the big Mizzou key words in there.

JS: I think what really happened was [while] we struggled to find a slogan that really encompassed all of our ideas of inclusivity of all students and of us being there for the students to work for them and with them, Show Your Stripes really stuck out to us. It seemed very Mizzou, inclusive, and to show us who you are and what problems you have. We’re coming in, and we can’t claim that we know all the problems and solutions of this campus. It’s a very large campus and every student is an individual with their issues. Show Your Stripes says to them “Show us who you are and show us how we can help you”.

IL: Let’s discuss your healthcare column. You state that you want to make students aware of health resources but there are so many students on campus that can’t use these resources due to their lack of health insurance. How do you propose to help these students?

JS: That’s a really good question, insurance is something that has come up a lot and we’ve been discussing policy and platform ideas and unfortunately there’s not a whole lot that MSA President and Vice President can do at that point. It’s a matter with administration and mostly state government as well. What we would like to do is be a voice for the students, represent them and if that is a concern of the student body, we would take that and meet with administration, meet with the state government and see what we could do to make sure these students get the help they need.

IL: What specific Columbia and Boone County laws are you hoping to be more involved in during your term? What changes do you hope to bring to those laws specific to MU students?

JS: I think that there is a lot going on in the state of MO at the moment that people are interested in. One [bill] that we were interested in, [is a bill brought up by Senator Luke Demeyer of the Missouri General Assembly] has a bill referencing the student curator and having a student curator that is able to have a vote that will be able to make decisions to impact the campus of Mizzou. So that is something that Mary and I are actually very excited about, we think that having student representation at that level would be phenomenal and that would be a great step for us. We actually meet with Senator Luke Demeyer and some other senators in the state government to discuss that bill and what we could do to work for it.

IL: The Bird/Lime scooters are extremely popular among MU students. However, there are many Columbia officials trying to ban their usage within city limits. What are you prepared to do to combat this?

MO: I would definitely say yes we’ve discussed this as well and we fully understand that there are issues with students being irresponsible and leaving the scooters just laying out, and then it’s not accessible for other students. So we are more than willing to work with legislature, anyone we have to, to make sure that everyone is safe but everyone is also accessible. And those are important things to us and I think the Mizzou students would like to be safe as well.

IL: Your counter-candidates Davis and Dinwiddie have announced they will be revising their platform throughout the year, changing it as needed for the students. How do you plan to follow through with your platform and are you prepared to make changes as needed?

JS: I’d say that we are absolutely willing to make changes as needed. Something that we’ve always tried to be very upfront with this campaign is, again, we don’t know all the problems that students are facing and we don’t know all the solutions. That’s why we want to work with you and for you to see what we can do in that regard. I would say that plans that we have to improve are policy, we’re excited to announce that we are going to be announcing a Listening Tour which is very exciting and we’re going to be meeting with a lot of different groups on campus and anyone who wants to come meet with us and speak about their ideas and talk about how we can help them.

IL: So when will the listening tour begin then?

JS: It will start mid week this week and continue until the end of the campaign. Obviously our policy will be revised throughout the whole campaign season as we meet with these [different] organizations and see what we can do to help them.

IL: What would you say your goal is for this tour then?

JS: I would say that our goal is for these organizations to feel comfortable with us, to feel like they can approach us and so that we can work in a collaborative manner so we can come together and come to a solution. We’re not trying to come in here and steam roll everyone and to just do what we think is best, we want to work with the students to come to a solution together.

MO: Something that we’ve talked about a lot is remaining open and understanding dialogue. That’s something we’re both really passionate about, is that if you don’t recognize a problem you can’t solve it. If elected, we would love to have open, honest, understanding dialogue because, again, Mizzou is a big university [where] people come from all over the world, to the middle of Missouri, to get this weather. But in all seriousness, we have everyone from every facet of life and i think that’s one of the most beautiful things about mizzou is that it offers this unique opportunity people who maybe have never been exposed to outside ideas. We’re really open and [really enjoy dialogue].

MO: Yeah, I think that encompasses a lot of our ideas of our campaign.   

IL: As rising seniors, what changes have you seen on MU’s campus from when you were Freshman to now that haven’t been for the benefits of students?

JS: I was involved in student government in high school, so coming to Mizzou I was a little shocked that people are really into elections. Something that I saw throughout my years at Mizzou is that these elections are more of a popularity contest, and it becomes a position of being a resume booster and “How can I get into this seat?” and becoming a competition of maybe who’s not the most qualified, but who’s the most liked on campus. I think that’s unfortunate because these elections really should be about qualifications and ideas and what these slates can potentially implement if they take office. That’s something that we want to have a conversation about during this campaign season. [We want to] bring back the ideals of this campaign, to represent the student body and making sure students understand this competition is important to them because it will impact their future. It shouldn’t just be a matter of “Who are you friends with?” It should be a matter of who will do the best job

IL: If elected are you prepared to start that conversation and to start bring back those ideals you want to see in the future?

JS: Absolutely, I think that we’ve had a discussion and while doing something like this, while there are a lot of perks to it, there’s also a lot of work and stress. It’s something that we’ve been willing to do because we think that we’d be able to implement things that are good for students.

IL: What made you both decide to run for the Presidential/Vice Presidential positions of MSA?

MO: I would say throughout my time at mizzou, while i wasn’t involved in MSA i was involved in student council of Arts and Sciences, Safe Sisters, and other organizations that let me learn from other leaders and let me develop as my own leader. From meeting different people at Summer Welcome and being a Panhellenic Counselor, I’ve been able to see the beauty in everyone that’s been able to talk to me, and that builds me up. I guess I just saw all these amazing people and I thought I would start this conversation where I could genuinely be there for people and I want them to feel like they could speak to me. I like to think i’m a pretty open and kind human, I’m not perfect nobody is. But I thought I could do something and Mizzou has given me so much and [I wanted] to give back in a way.

JS: I would say for me, just going off of Mary’s answer, the discussions we had while deciding whether to run involved [the question], “Could we do a good job?”. We have a lot of experience in student government, student council. I have a lot of experience on the budget committee and MSA so I understand how that money is going to work and what plans you can actually pay for and implement. I think ultimately the reason we decided to run was that we have the experience, we can do a good job, we’re passionate about this campus and the students that are here, and we want to make an impact. Again, in previous years I’ve seen people for this position for the wrong reasons and we want to bring back [running] for the right reasons.

IL: Jen, you described yourself as an activist for student rights. What student rights are most challenged at Mizzou and what have you done to fix that?

JS: I’m involved in the Students Rights Advisors Organization. We advise students going through the student conduct process as well as lobbying for student rights on campus. I think that [as far as] student rights, Mizzou does a good job. We’re very lucky and fortunate to be at a school especially with a student conduct process [where] you’re allowed to have a hearing, cross examine witnesses, even bring a lawyer to those hearings if you like, that a lot of other schools don’t allow. In that regard, Mizzou does a good job, but at the same time there are still a lot of steps we need to take to ensure that student rights continue. One goal of SRA this year is that we are going to lobby Jefferson City to try and cast a bill that will guarantee rights to students to have an advisor present at student conduct hearings across the state of Missouri, whether it be at Mizzou, Missouri State, and all of these [college campuses] in Missouri. That’s something that students should have the right and the freedom to do.

IL: Mary, unlike Jen, you’re not majoring in Political Science which is what most people would assume the majors of MSA officers would be. How will your experience in the Panhellenic Community contribute to your time as MSA Vice President?

MO: I would say in the Panhellenic community I have seen how people are able to come together, specifically through safe sisters, which is an organization through PHA that advocates against the stigma of mental health, educating everyone and really trying to change that language. As Vice President [if elected], with my experience through Safe Sisters [and as] Music Chair and Director of Musical Skits, I would love to be an open and honest communicator. I love to listen to everyone’s point of view. I think if you’re not listening people will know, and they’re not going to be honest with you. I would just like to promote an open and honest dialogue and continue to support students.

JS: If I could jump in, I think that one thing that’s cool about Mary is she is majoring in [biology and spanish], because there are so many students in MSA Senate and the government that are studying political science and journalism, which is what I’m studying, but I think it’s really important that we get STEM majors and other majors involved in student government [so they can get their voices heard] as well.

IL: Do you feel like there is a lack of STEM majors and diversity within majors?

JS: I do, and I don’t think it’s’ a matter of discrimination or anything negative, I think it’s a matter of a lack of outreach. There’s not enough promotion and outreach within the organization itself. A lot of students while we were gathering signatures for Form 1 for this election would say “What is MSA? We have student government here?”. That’s really sad and we need to do a lot more with MSA to make students aware of this organization and that it is here to serve them.

IL: How are you prepared to start campaigning to those students who don’t know what MSA is or who you are?

JS: I think that social media is a really underutilized tool for MSA. If we start having members posting a little bit more, talk to their friends about it, create pages where people can follow the organization and get updates on what the Senate in MSA is doing. I think that would be really positive and an easy way for students to follow what MSA is doing.

IL: Who is your target voter group at MU and do you think your platform will appeal to these students?

JS: I don’t know that we really have a specific group that we’re targeting. We want to be here for all the students on campus and that’s something that’s really important with the listening tour, is that we’re speaking with organizations of all different backgrounds, beliefs and affiliations and to let them know that we’re there for them.

IL: What are you doing as far as voter outreach? i.e. being accessible and interactions (erin)

MO: I think we’re gonna start tabling when it’s not negative 20 degrees outside and it’s dangerously cold, but I think the more we can get out there and show our faces, let people know that we’re here and that we’re people too. We aren’t some scary dictators, we’re just students that genuinely want to see the best in Mizzou and see students have the best experience they can and grow with us.

JS: We might speak to some classrooms so we can reach out to more students who maybe don’t stop at Speaker’s Circle or don’t stop at [our] tables, just so we’re able to reach more of [the voters].  

IL: What is your biggest goal and challenge for the 2019-2020 school year?

MO: Personally, I would just want to see students feeling comfortable in coming to us, having that open and honest dialogue, letting us know what we can do with them and for them and just having that conversation. We also have plans in place right now with our platform such as virtualizing the counseling center to extend [to students].

JS: That’s our overall message that we would like to see happen. If you want more specifics, I’m really excited to see the Opioid overdose medication be implemented in dorms, Greek Houses as well as other on campus buildings. That’s something that we just learned that the current MSA executive office is hoping to do [by the end of this year]. But if not, if elected, we’ll take care of it. I think that the income sharing agreements is another really great idea for college affordability, where it can give students [other] avenues with how to pay for college.

IL: If you could change one thing President Julia Wopota has done in her 2017-2018 term, what would it be?

JS: I think Julia is great, I think she’s been a great president [because] she’s professional and presidential and she does a good job. I think something that maybe we would like to do is carry Julia and Connor’s legacy through. I like their ideas for the Black and Gold Fridays, where students can dress up in black and gold and promote school spirit. I think that’s something that we really need to do at Mizzou, to get back our school spirit and get everyone hyped up to be [going to school] at Mizzou and for the athletic events. That’s something that I would personally like to see us carry on from her administration and maybe implement just a little bit better.

IL: When are elections are how can students vote?

JS: The elections are going to be March 4 starting at 6pm and they go until March 6, ending at 6pm as well. You can vote by going to vote.missouri.edu and we will be posting that everywhere when it gets a little closer, so don’t worry if you forget, we’ll remind you.

IL: Anything else you would like to say to the students of Mizzou?

MO: Thank you for being the community that you are. Something I really value that I’ve seen in college that I wasn’t expecting as much, is just people building each other up. I was horrified to go to a public university that’s big, but it’s really just people from all different backgrounds coming together, so thank you Mizzou for building each other up, and let’s keep building each other up.

JS: I think both Mary and I want to extend our sincerest gratitude to the student body. It’s such an honor to even be nominated and be a candidate for this position. We’re really grateful and honored and if you elect us, we promise to do the best job that we can.

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