The opinions expressed in this article don’t necessarily reflect the beliefs of KCOU 88.1FM.
By Hughes Ransom, KCOU News Staff/Pulse Anchor and Producer
Ready to leave the Missouri Student Association’s presidential debates, I listened to the moderator’s announcing of its end, but I missed the sound of any applause or acknowledgment of good performance from the audience members. The lack of applause translated to me a collective sigh. I knew, at that point, that the rest of the people in Bengal’s Lair felt the same as I did: that the MSA a) fails to relate to its students or its issues and b) that none of the candidates maintain the students’ interest or praise. The three groups running—Haden Gomez and Chris Hanner, Jordan McFarland and Jonathan Segers and Syed Ejaz and Heather Parrie—all showed a general understanding of the issues, and all spoke well enough to convey their platforms. The sad fact is that none of these candidates will raise that number, making the MSA presidential race a pile of dust, with the candidates being individual specks.
Although each of the candidates addressed this, the fact is they are entering themselves into the almost universally ignored body that is the Missouri Student Association, with movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MuckISIS overshadowing them in most circles. Ejaz spoke while addressing administration officials that his office will promote a “grassroots movement,” but I ask, where is your momentum? Sure, those of us (the student reporters) that are forced to come and watch you all blab about these issues are aware of your presence, but what about the “invisible student,” as McFarland called them? Grassroots movements emerge from compelling causes and vocations that entire bodies of people can latch onto, but Ejaz’s and Parrie’s campaign tenets of “Serve. Challenge. Belong.” sound more like a desperate clamoring at professionalism, not a compelling movement.
It is these sigh-inducing phrases like “Moving Mizzou Forward” and “Back to Basics” that tire the students and thus turn them away from voting, these being the slogans of Gomez and Hanner and McFarland and Seger respectively. And despite the fact that Ejaz and Parrie too have a numbing slogan, they performed the best at the debates. Parrie did a good job of pointing out inaccuracies in her opponents’ answers, correcting Seger on his claims of “books over dumbbells” in saying that the library and the recreation center are funded through two different avenues. Further, Ejaz kept true to his opening statements saying that the candidates need to stop using political rhetoric that tells the students nothing and to actually start being honest with the public.
Despite this principle of honesty, however, many candidates were seen defending their own ignorance on the issues from the last debate. All three candidate groups did not know of the three DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in the previous debate on Friday, and McFarland thus called for the student body to “be sure that everyone is educated on issues no matter how minute the population.” In addressing Green Dot certification, Gomez stated that he would have to work with the DPE (Diversity Peer Educators); but the DPEs do not handle Green Dot training, the RSVP Center does. These issues are vital to the student body because issues like race relations and sexual assault affect its everyday life, but the overarching pattern is that MSA badly mishandles these issues.