Most influential students: Haden Gomez

The Missouri Students Association was a sleeping dragon; it looked strong, intimidating and powerful, but in reality, it was dormant. It stayed silent on pertinent issues, and its members proudly boasted an extra but hollow line on their resumes.

But what does it take to wake the beast from its complacent slumber? Haden Gomez: the man so many love to hate. He’s Pocket Points’ best advertiser and the poster child for the dangers of GroupMe. Now, he can add Missouri Students Association reformist to his resume, whether he intended to or not.

It’s easy to point fingers at the bad things Gomez and his team did. But really, MSA should be writing Gomez and the “Josh is in a frat” crew a thank-you note. Their dishonesty highlighted the flaws in MSA and the Board of Elections Commissioners, causing both to go through some much-needed reform.

New leaders in MSA’s executive offices and in Senate have said they are focused on bringing more transparency and voices to an organization that has been criticized for lacking both.

Gomez won the November 2015 MSA presidential election but resigned before he took office. A shady deal with Pocket Points and plan for sending out mass text messages, both illegal according to the BEC, landed him, running mate Chris Hanner and his campaign team in hot water.

“(We saw) how much a group of individuals could tarnish an entire association that represents over 27,000 students,” MSA President Sean Earl said in a previous Maneater article. “We wanted to get back to what we came into when we first started in MSA, and that was the true spirit of service, advocacy and representing our fellow Tigers.”

Earl and Vice President Tori Schafer want to grow the Department of Student Communications to an entire committee to share MSA’s many services it can provide for students. They also want to create monthly town hall meetings where students can speak with their representatives informally. Although Senate welcomes any student to speak, Earl believes that this can be too intimidating for those unfamiliar with MSA.

Senate Speaker Mark McDaniel wants to rebuild trust among the student body for MSA by creating a Senate communications team. He wants students to use MSA as an advocacy tool to enhance diverse opinions, which he believes didn’t happen last fall. He wants Senate to hear all voices by recruiting students with differing views.

“A number of students (felt silenced) and at the same time, a number of people felt ridiculed, and that’s not what you need in public discourse,” McDaniel said in a previous Maneater article. “Every opinion, every voice should be heard, and MSA is the best place to start that.”

It’s hard to imagine what the next year would have brought for MSA were Gomez inaugurated. Perhaps MSA would’ve progressed as it always had: inch by inch. But Gomez’s decisions and the revolt against him moved MSA a mile.

MSA could no longer get away with indifference or muddied transparency. All eyes are on MSA now, just like they should be. A revolution is underway.

“(What happened last November) just seemed very messy, and it’s not what MSA is about,” Earl said in a previous Maneater article. “I think a lot of those individuals, just off of new leadership have left. (The) last election was the last phase of transitioning the group out that is focused on the titles and ambition.”

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