Students’ voices were heard in student body elections

Originally posted on the-standard.org on April 12, 2016. Written with Danisha Hogue.

MSU students voted in the Student body election and placed Adam Coffman as student body president and Briana Duda as vice president for the 2016-2017 academic year. Daniel Guerrini, junior political science major, was voted to be the senior class president for the upcoming academic year.

Besides the elections, the ballot also held a number of topics and projects. Students voted to reallocate the USA Today Readership Program Fee to a Student Initiative Fund. The USA Today Readership Program provides USA Today, Springfield News-Leader and New York Times paper publications to campus Monday through Friday, as well as pays for a mobile app.

Students paid a $3 fee per semester for the USA Readership program. The program costs a total of $100,000 per year, 85 percent currently goes toward paper publications.

Caitlin Schaefer, director of student affairs programming and services, said the app only held about 256 downloads out of 24,000 students on campus — less than one percent of the enrolled students. She also said that at the PSU newspaper stand 63 percent of the newspapers were being wasted.

Now, the fee will go into a Student Initiative Fund. The Student Initiative Fund will be similar to the Wyrick Student Project Fund, so students may submit proposals to the student body president and go through the steps to get the program approved. The difference between the Wyrick Student Project Fund and the Student Initiative Fund is it would have a quicker turnaround rate, meaning it would take less time for proposals to be approved.

Brett Kaprelian, a senior broadcast journalism major, said he didn’t agree with disbanding the readership program completely.

“I don’t think they should get rid of paper copies completely,” Kaprelian said, “but with all the money they are wasting on the print media, they should definitely put that into online media.”

Both proposals for the Wyrick Fund were also approved by student vote. Both of the proposals will be funded completely by the Wyrick Student Project Fund. This fund collects a $3 fee per semester from enrolled students, which is then used to fund projects submitted by students and approved by the Wyrick Commission.

The first Wyrick proposal was for automatic doors in bathrooms on the second and third floors of the Plaster Student Union, adding more accessibility for people with disabilities. According to SGA’s website, students have been wanting this addition for the past two years, requesting that it be made to all bathrooms on-campus.

For just this proposal, the project will cost a total of $10,000 and will be maintained by PSU maintenance staff. The money will be coming directly from the Wyrick Fund, adding no additional cost to students.

“We’re hoping for (construction to start) this summer,” said Jordan Upchurch, director of diversity and inclusion and junior marketing major. Upchurch had brought this proposal to the Wyrick committee.

Freshman gerontology major Rachel Frisch said she appreciated this proposal in particular because it would impact someone she knows. Since she is interested in SGA, Frisch said she came to the forum as a way to get involved, along with staying updated for her role as a university ambassador.

“We always talk about how Missouri State cares about diversity and strives to make all students feel accepted and have resources,” Frisch said. “People with disabilities are often overlooked when talking about diversity, so I appreciate that people with disabilities were taken into consideration when drawing up this proposal.”

The second approved Wyrick proposal is for outdoor seating on the west half of the trapezoidal grassy area on the east end of Hammons Fountain. The project will consist of 15 outdoor seating units, Wifi poles, trees and landscaping and a dedication plaque, according to Sarah Hallemeier, junior communication major and at-large senator in university advancement committee, and Max Wagner, senior administrative management major and director of university advancement.

The project is expected to be completed in spring 2017. The total cost of the project will be $171,549, coming directly from the Wyrick Fund.

The last two issues on the ballot weren’t as controversial as other proposals. The Multicultural Resource Center Annex was changed to the Mary Jean Price-Walls Multicultural Resource Center. The new facility is located in the basement of the Freudenberger House, and there are plans to put the name on the outside of the building, according to Upchurch. The LGBT Resource Center, which is located in the annex, is now open.

Lastly, students voted “yes” on the SGA Constitutional Amendment to add an official Title IX Commission. On their website, SGA said this will show “Student Government’s commitment to sexual assault prevention and Title IX issues on campus.”

Voting started on April 6 and ended at 5 p.m. on April 8. Before the election, SGA held an open forum on April 4 in the Plaster Student Union. Students not only talked about the projects, but also questioned Coffman, Duda and Guerrini about systemic issues on campus, diversity, social justice and ethics.

About 35 people were in attendance including students and a few faculty/staff members.

During the forum, Coffman and Duda had discussed what they hope to achieve while they are student body president and vice president. Kaprelian said he didn’t think Coffman and Duda could actually execute their plans.

“I think the student body candidates are trying to go for too much,” Kaprelian said. “I think they have higher expectations that what they can actually achieve.”

However, for graduate student Devon Wright, she thought the pair would be exactly what campus needs.

“I think both Adam and Brianna have a great vision for the university,” Wright said. “They understand the issues facing Missouri State but are also aware of what makes this university so great. I have confidence in their leadership abilities and believe they would be great servants to the university.”

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