SGA passed a motion in support of African-American students at the University of Missouri with a narrow majority of 51 percent.
In light of recent racial tensions in Missouri and at universities across the nation, the SGA executive committee produced a board which states “SGA Supports Mizzou” and “#WeAreMizzou.”
Senior class representative Spencer Ward forwarded a motion to change the wording to “I Support Mizzou” because SGA hadn’t formally voted in support of the protests, and because students outside of SGA would be signing it. The motion was tabled and later postponed indefinitely.
Executive Vice President Corey Parks said that SGA should vote in support of or against the protests at the University of Missouri before taking further action. Parks said that SGA is in a position to take a stance on important issues such as these, which helps ensure students that SGA supports them, whether at UCA or in Missouri.
Junior class representative Hayley Harp made the motion for SGA to support #WeAreMizzou as a unified body, citing UCA’s tradition of embracing diversity on campus. Harp said that supporting the movement would be a way to let Mizzou students know that UCA appreciates their efforts. It was moved that the motion to support Mizzou students be referred to the PR Committee to write a resolution that would be more professional and polished.
Senator Thomas Deathrage supported this idea, citing the need for council members to educate themselves on the issue before voting in support of or against it. Senior class representative Jacob Wickliffe, also in favor, said that SGA members need time to talk to students about their views on the matter, since senators are supposed to represent the student population.
Parks, in opposition, said that if the resolution wasn’t completed and approved by next week’s meeting, it wouldn’t get voted on until next semester. The motion to refer the motion to committee failed with six yes votes and 31 no votes.
Sophomore class representative Ben Askew then made a motion to postpone the vote on the motion definitely for senators to educate themselves further on the matter. Harp said that waiting to vote on the issue to support would mean hiding the board for a week and that it may not be relevant in a week. Parks said that senators shouldn’t vote now just because it’s a hot topic, because it isn’t an issue that will go away overnight. However, he said that the vote shouldn’t be postponed. The motion to postpone the vote definitely failed with 13 yes votes and 24 no votes.
SGA then voted on the motion in question, whether to voice support for #WeAreMizzou. The motion passed with a 51 percent majority, with 19 yes votes, 16 no votes, and 2 abstentions. SGA heard two SAFA appeals at the meeting, from Artists in Motion (AIM) and the men’s volleyball team. AIM requested approximately $3,200 from the SAFA Committee and received $900.
AIM president Samantha Harnsberry said that the organization is planning an event next semester for artists on campus that will double as a training workshop and a career fest. She requested an additional $200 for speaker and travel fees. The event will be free, but AIM will offer a VIP package for $4.99. That money would go toward scholarships for art students. It was moved to allocate no more than the previous amount to AIM.
Senior class representative Mollie Henager said that the organization didn’t need more money, especially because they had changed their event from two days to one. She also said that SGA generally gives less funding for events that charge an entrance fee. SGA voted in favor of the motion with 36 yes votes and one no vote.
Reid Mallone, president of the Men’s Club Volleyball Team, appealed SGA’s decision to allocate $400 of the requested $944. Mallone said that the team needs the additional money for registration fees for a national tournament in April. Mallone said that if SGA grants the full amount, the team won’t have to use as much of their fundraising money on registration fees and could use it on transportation and lodging costs instead.
Parks opposed additional allocation because the money would be used off-campus for only a handful of students. He said that the money would be better served funding on-campus events that the whole student body can access and enjoy. He also said that moving around funding to pay for gas would translate to SGA paying for gas, which SAFA guidelines prohibit. The motion to deny further funding passed with 33 yes votes, one no vote, and two abstentions.
SGA voted unanimously to approve the allocation of $1,743.28 to the African Students Association from the Emergency SAFA fund. Although emergency SAFA funding is usually reserved for new student organizations, the African Students Association is unique in that it has a large turnover, and it occasionally needs emergency funding. The money would go toward an event in the spring featuring an African speaker.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 18, 2015 print edition of The Echo.