Spent some time at the University of Missouri-Columbia the other day and picked up the school year’s last edition of the student newspaper, The Maneater. A special part of the paper was devoted to the turbulent year on the Columbia campus. The staff ranked events in various categories including the Top Five Worst of the year.
The Biggest Embarrassment was the Missouri Students Association. The Biggest Letdown was the performance of the football and basketball teams. Among the other “worsts” was Biggest Frustration.
It was the Missouri legislature. The school administration for understandable political reasons can’t say things that students can. This has been a turbulent year for the young men and women on the Columbia campus. Only a few were involved in the campus disturbances last fall but all of them have to live with the results of what the few did and the political fallout from those weeks. We thought Maneater staff writer Amos Chen’s appraisal of the Missouri legislature was worth passing along because it comes from one of the thousands of students who were swept up in the politics of the year. Here’s what he wrote:
Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
Through their frustrating actions over the past year, the Missouri legislature has more than proven Reagan’s famous words true.
In August, former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin was called to testify before the Senate by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, about the relationship between University Hospital and Planned Parenthood. All this, despite the Missouri Attorney General’s Office later finding no evidence of wrongdoing.
Schaefer was back at it again in January when an email from former UM System President Tim Wolfe surfaced where he claimed Schaefer pressured him to deny then-MU associate professor Josh Hawley’s request for a leave of absence to run for Attorney General. In a revelation that surprised absolutely nobody, Schaefer also happens to be running for that position.
That’s before getting to the “piece de resistance” of the entire affair—Missouri lawmakers response to the Concerned Student 1950 protests against racial discrimination, and former assistant communications professor Melissa Click’s call for “muscle” making national headlines.
In March, the House Budget Committee became the latest to jump on the “let’s screw over MU” bandwagon, passing a budget slashing $1 million in funds for MU. The budgetary hearing produced gems such as an amendment by Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, reducing state funding for MU from $169,305,944 to $1 (not a typo). The amendment was later withdrawn, not because Miller thought it wouldn’t pass, but because he was afraid it would. I would write a joke about this but nothing I think of could possibly match the absurdity of this piece of political theater.
The Senate later came to its senses and restored the cuts, but it retained a $1 million decrease to administration to make sure the university knew who the real boss around these parts is. The final draft cut the UM System budget by $3.8 million.
From dubiously motivated witch hunts to politically influenced legislation, the actions of the Missouri legislature over the past year rightfully earns these legislators the title of Biggest Frustration.
We offer this with no endorsement or comment. Sometimes the voice of someone who didn’t start a fight but whose life is affected by it says something.
Sometimes we wonder at the end of elections and at the end of legislative sessions whether the candidates or the lawmakers gave any thought to how their actions did anything to improve the public attitude toward government. Amos seems to have given an answer.