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Most Influential Students: Andrew Hutchinson reflects on city council campaign and One Mic

The Columbia native felt it was his responsibility to create change in the community.

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Poetry and politics don’t always make sense together, but Andrew Hutchinson has a passion for both.

The former MSA and city council candidate and co-founder of One Mic, a local poetry organization, has learned a lot from his atypical college experiences.

Hutchinson, a graduating senior, fostered the poetry scene in Columbia by co-founding One Mic, an organization that allows poets to present their work and listen to others’, with T’Keyah Thomas in 2014.

“[One Mic] has given me permission to do all of the crazy things I’ve ever wanted to do with poetry, which is bridging gaps across communities,” Thomas said.

Starting One Mic was just the beginning of Hutchinson’s efforts to bring change to his community. The Columbia native ran for Missouri Students Association president in 2016 and for Columbia City Council in 2017.

“It was pretty exhausting,” Hutchinson said. “I was working 40 hours a week, I was a full-time student, and then doing the campaigning was probably another 20 to 30 hours, and then I had three senior projects going on at the time as well, so I wasn’t sleeping much.”

Hutchinson is ready for the next step, Thomas said.

“My dad always told me that you need to do the things you have to do in order to do the things you want to do,” Thomas said. “Andrew has done the things that he had to do, that he needs to do, and he’s still doing that in order for him to take it wherever he’s going.”

As Hutchinson grew older, he became more aware of Columbia’s politics. As an MU student, he saw that the city was not looking out for the best interests of its tens of thousands students. He wants to see more affordable student housing, bigger voter turnout for local elections and better transportation services.

“The government here in the city is slowly but surely disadvantaging the student population,” Hutchinson said. “Whether it be not putting a precinct polling place on campus because [the city] just assume[s] that students don’t want to vote, or allowing student housing to become so expensive and allow developers to come in and put strains on the infrastructure and have hyper-inflated rent ... those are going to cause financial insecurity for students.”

Next year, Hutchinson will attend Washington University in St. Louis, where he will work toward a master’s degree in social work. Despite the disappointment of losing this year's election to represent the First Ward of Columbia, which includes downtown and the campuses of MU, Stephens College and Columbia College, he hopes to come back to Columbia after graduate school and see his goals come to fruition.

“It’s OK to dream big, but try to be reasonable,” Hutchinson said. “I think I tried to tackle too much, but I don’t think that I would be happy if I didn’t try to do any of the stuff that I did. Maybe try doing one thing really well instead of doing a whole bunch of things decently.”

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