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University of Missouri

Three Pamphleteers

Three students garner the Geyer Award, one of the Mizzou Alumni Association’s highest honors.

three male students

Winners of a Mizzou Alumni Association Geyer Award galvanized thousands of fellow Mizzou students in spring 2012 to voice their opinions to legislators. Their message: Maintain level funding for MU. The winners are, from left, Zach Toombs, Ben Levin and Steven Dickherber. Photo by Rob Hill.

Because the Mizzou Alumni Association annually gives one of two Geyer Awards to a political figure who has steadfastly supported MU, it’s not surprising that Missouri Sen. David Pearce, BS Ag ’84, of Warrensburg, Mo., is one of this year’s winners. He has championed Mizzou’s issues in the Statehouse for a decade.

But for the first time in the award’s 20-year history, the association has given the second Geyer Award to Mizzou students: Steven Dickherber of Wentzville, Mo.; Ben Levin of Columbia; and Zach Toombs of Red Oak, Texas. The award typically goes to someone with a long record of service.

The trio of pamphleteers distinguished themselves as the “brain trust” and “feet on the ground” for the spring 2012 More for Less campaign, which mobilized students against proposed fiscal 2013 cuts to Mizzou’s state appropriation.

They drafted a statement against the 12.5 percent cut and took it to the Missouri Students Association Senate. “Students were passionate about this issue,” Levin says, “so we started a letter-writing campaign to legislators.”

Dickherber recalls a goal of 100 letters. “We had 1,700 our first day and 6,000 in all,” he says.

“There’s a stigma that students are not engaged,” Toombs says. But students played a big part in saying that the cuts were too steep, he says. Their message was to maintain level funding.

From now on, Dickherber says, “Legislators can’t look at the education budget as an easy target. Students can do something about it.”

Levin agrees: “Students are now dreaming so much bigger because we can see what we can accomplish.”

Correction: A previous version of this article had an incorrect name for the More for Less campaign.