Controversy continues to harm University of Missouri


Photo by Cassi Viox

Ji-Ho Lee

The iconic columns on the Francis Quad at the University of Missouri – Columbia has seen its fair share of controversial actions in the last several months.
The University of Missouri – Columbia (UMC) campus has hosted an extraordinary amount of controversy in this academic year. This already overflowing pile of controversy, however, only expanded over the past week.
Starting with ConcernedStudent1950 and the resignation of former Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and the actions and words of Professor Melissa Click, UMC found itself mired in the national spotlight.
After the confirmed allegations of Maty Mauk’s drug-related actions, Mizzou’s issues continued to expand.
Most recently, a controversy regarding the Missouri Student Association (MSA) President and Vice President-elects Haden Gomez and Chris Hanner has surfaced.
Natalie Edelstein, former campaign manager of the Gomez – Hanner tandem, leaked screenshots showing several infractions committed by the campaign during the election process. The infractions violated rules explicitly stated in the Board of Election Commissioners (BEC) Election Handbook.
The Handbook states that mass emails or texts are prohibited. Edelstein, co-campaign manager Josh Boehm and Hanner all agreed that they would be sending mass texts to friends in order to gain more votes.
The screenshots also exposed a reference to a “mass notification,” and endorsement. A conversation between Gomez, Edelstein and Hanner confirms that the popular app, Pocket Points, was paid to endorse the campaign:
[spoiler title=”Read the messages sent in the leaked screenshot” open=”yes” style=”fancy” icon=”arrow”]Gomez: Do we want the mass notification to say “vote Gomez/Hanner” Or “We Endorse”

Gomez: Yea. We had no part in it. Pocket points did it independent of us.
Edelstein: If they contact Jeremy and find out we paid him then we’re all f****** is all I’m saying

Hanner: They have no authority to find the payment anyway[/spoiler] After the screenshots were leaked, the MSA Senate deliberated in response to the newly leaked screenshots. According to the MSA Twitter account, Gomez and Hanner both resigned, and Payton Head has assumed full responsibility as the MSA president and Bill Vega has taken the Vice President role.
Mizzou senior and RBHS alum, Syed Ejaz, who finished second in the MSA presidential race, said that the violations are explicit and the consequences worthy.
If this evidence had come out during [the election], the Gomez/Hanner campaign would surely have been booted from the election,” Ejaz said in an email interview.
Soon after the resignations of the former President and Vice President-elects, the MSA Senate declared that a vote would take place soon to identify a new President and Vice President for the student body. Despite his initial success, Ejaz has said that he will not run again.
“I was recruited by many people to run against Haden Gomez and stop him from becoming MSA President,” Ejaz said. “Now that he’s out of the picture, I have no desire to run.”
While at the surface a small endorsement may appear to be a trivial thing, it most likely was the deciding factor in the presidential race.
“Pocket Points sends its endorsement notification to 15,000 students at Mizzou. There was no way for any of the other campaigns to compete at that level,” Ejaz explained. “The margin of victory between my campaign and Haden [Gomez’s] was 605 votes. That’s about 4% of the total number of people Pocket Points reaches. Essentially, Haden only needed a 4% return on Pocket Points in order to beat me – it’s a low bar to meet. I’m confident in the notion of Pocket Points deciding the election.”
While the newly exposed events have rocked the UMC campus yet again, the controversy has affected all students in Columbia, not just the ones on collegiate campuses.
“I’ve wanted to go to Mizzou since I was young. To see all of these issues with the protests and now the student body president, it’s kind of frustrating and disappointing and sad at the same time,” junior Jake Walters, a lifelong Columbia citizen, said. “Columbia is a great place and it’s home for a lot of people. It just stinks that all of this bad stuff is going on. It gives the city and the school a bad reputation.”
The issues have more directly impacted RBHS senior Grace Robertson who will be attending Mizzou next year.
“All these events have made me sort of disappointed in Mizzou,” Robertson said. “These events have made me reconsider [attending Mizzou] and I have made the choice not to live on campus because of these events.”
As shocking as these events may seem to some, others are not surprised at all.
Everyone knew they cheated,” Ejaz said. “The screenshots simply proved it.”