MSA student positions in standing committees filled for the first time

Ryan Alsop, Campus Safety Committee representative: “The thing is that administration, they want our voice. They want to have students in on these conversations because that’s why these universities are here.”

For the first time ever, all of the Missouri Students Association positions on the Chancellor’s Standing Committees have been filled.

MSA Vice President Payton Englert said that only 39 percent of the positions were filled last year.

The standing committees, organized through the Office of the Chancellor, consist of students, faculty and staff members who serve three-year terms.

Faculty and staff positions are chosen by the chancellor, whereas student positions are filled by the MSA vice president.

The 34 committees discuss important campus-wide issues, including campus safety, parking, Residential Life, the status of women and student organizations.

Filling the Committees

Students on the standing committees make decisions alongside the faculty and staff members on the committees, providing perspectives that may be absent from a committee made up of solely faculty and staff.

“It’s important that all of the student seats are filled because at our university, we’re making a lot of tough decisions about a lot of important things,” Englert said. “We wanted to make sure that students have a say in those conversations. And, gauging off the amount of interest we had in the applications, students do want to have a say. So, we’re really excited to give students the opportunity.”

With so many students applying, the organizational process took longer than usual. The Chancellor's Standing Committee website still had many of the positions labeled as “tbd” at the beginning of the semester.

“It’s pretty normal for the process,” said Christian Basi, MU News Bureau director. “It takes a little while for the names to get through the committees and then over to the individual who is updating the website.”

As of Oct. 9, all of the positions on the Chancellor’s Standing Committee website have been updated to reflect every position being filled.

While the committee members were all hired before the summer, a few were not able to continue with the position when the committee’s schedule was released. But, there was enough extra student interest to keep the positions filled.

“When the committee times were released, some students were unable to make it, so we’re kind of having to rearrange things,” Englert said. “But, luckily we have enough student interest that we’re going to be able to get them all filled.”

Englert was unable to comment on why the committees have never been completely filled before.

In order to accomplish filling every seat, MSA advertised the openings through Twitter, email and word of mouth. It also encouraged members of the senate and other MSA positions to apply for committee seats.

Englert said MSA received more applications than expected.

“It was a really great feeling that so many people were so excited and wanted to make a difference and create positive change on our campus,” Englert said.

Englert said that when she was choosing students for committee positions, she looked for passionate students who were excited to participate in ongoing conversations on campus and make a difference. For example, members in MSA senate who were passionate about a certain issue were encouraged to apply for a specific committee.

Student Voices

However, despite many of the committee members being selected through MSA, senators and other members of MSA hold their own opinions in the committees and argue on behalf of all students.

Ryan Alsop is an MSA member and representative for the Campus Safety Committee and the ad hoc Smoking Committee. The Campus Safety Committee works to make the campus as safe as possible and the Smoking Committee is reviewing the MU smoking policy.

As a senator, Alsop believes he always put an emphasis on student safety. Now he works to implement his ideas in his committee, such as continuing the Campus Safety Walks and act as a student voice for the new smoking policy on campus.

“I always have a major emphasis in campus safety and student affairs,” Alsop said. “This is one of the things that students are going to have to focus on, their own safety. You’re going to be walking from the library late at night, it’s going to be a little darker and you want to know that you’ll feel safe on our campus, and that’s one thing that I want to put first.”

Mason Brobeck is another member of MSA and a representative for the Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Committee. This committee works to reduce MU’s carbon footprint.

Brobeck has met with the Sustainability Office and is working to raise MU’s national score for sustainability, which is currently a 65.93/100. He and the committee are looking to implement new majors geared toward the environment and using the curriculum to teach students how to be green.

Last year, MSA passed a resolution encouraging the university to divest from fossil fuels. The resolution was passed by MSA, GPC, LBC and fraternity and sorority governments, and was signed by over 2,500 students.

“I’ve tried to set attainable goals, something I could really see happening,” Brobeck said. “The big one is getting the school to divest from fossil fuels. We had a bunch of students sign on.”

Students don’t have to be in MSA to represent the undergraduate student body. One of these students is Baylee Hudson, a representative on the Committee on Committees, which is charged with reviewing and judging the other standing committees, as students pair up with faculty and and staff.

“We’re supposed to regulate a third of the committees every year,” Hudson said. “So basically, we review them and decide whether they should be continued or discontinued or fixed or something like that.”

Hudson is enthusiastic about being a voice for MU students.

“You’ve got to get that student voice,” she said. “There’s only two or three students in my committee and I think that it’s a vital part of it because they were really adamant on getting student voices and students to represent MSA. So, I think it is a crucial role in what they decide to do.”

The students in these committees feel as though they are making a difference at MU.

“The thing is that administration, they want our voice,” Alsop said. “They want to have students in on these conversations because that’s why these universities are here. They are for the students that come here, obviously. So, we do have a very strong opinion in there, and they will definitely listen to us with policies because they always want student opinion.”

Edited by Sarah Hallam | shallam@themaneater.com

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