The board of directors met on Friday, September 9 in the Hannah administration building. Student leaders and liaisons provided updates on campus life and called for more inclusivity and transparency.
Student Liaison Messages
President of ASSU Jo Kovach promised to bring the voice of minority students to the meeting.
Kovach said they were the subject of a hate attack a month ago. Their personal office store was vandalized. This followed a story about Kovach becoming Michigan State’s first openly non-binary student body president.
“I had a sticker in my freshman year that said, ‘Hate has no place here at MSU,'” Kovach said. “All of you, myself and every minority student know that is far from the truth. Hatred is alive and well in the state of Michigan, and there have been several incidents of bias since I personally set foot on this campus.
Kovach said they will spend this year working with the board to bring more minority students, especially from MSU’s most diverse class of 9,800 students, to the table to make the campus safer.
Student Liaison Stevie Quijas reported that as of Sept. 8, MSU has more than 70,000 students using more than $2.19 million in financial aid for the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters.
He said the Spartan Advantage, an Office of Financial Aid program designed specifically for exceptionally needy, low-income students, forced students into vulnerable positions.
“I have had discussions with Provost Woodruff and financial aid administrators to ensure that the university recognizes the extent of the problem in order to properly address student concerns, find solutions and minimize the occurrence of such cases in the future,” Quijas said.
Quijas said he looks forward to working with student groups on campus to improve other aspects of campus culture, such as relations with Indigenous and minority students.
Residence Halls Association acting president Belle Letcher said Hall government recruitment is going very well.
“We could very well have active room government in every room, which I’m very excited about,” Letcher said.
With a record incoming class of freshmen and transitional housing, Letcher said it’s been a particularly tough year to be a resident assistant.
“RHA works very hard to recognize that ARs are also constituents. We care about them just as much as ARs care about the people on their floor,” Letcher said. “We are currently working with the RAs and ICAs to give them seats in the RHAs so they can make their valuable contribution.”
Fall student leaders are welcome
Student leaders from various campus organizations discussed the launch of the academic year.
Delaney Rogers, a broadcast journalism junior, is the manager of campus radio station WDBM-FM, Impact 88.9FM. She talked about the work that Impact has done, as well as its success with new members.
“As a station, we do a lot of event DJing…like welcome events or Sparticipation,” Rogers said. “Anyone can join this team, regardless of specialization or experience… around 300 volunteers have since signed up.”
Rogers said Impact had been awarded the “Best College Radio Station” award 18 of the past 22 years by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. Its airways reach 30 miles in each direction and can be streamed online.
Elementary school junior George Ramirez Madrigal found similar success during the fall welcome with Culturas de las Razas Unidas, one of the largest Latinx organizations on campus. Ramirez is the president of the organization.
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“We are happy to announce that we have reached over 150 students so far, and I am proud of this achievement,” said Ramirez. “We are trying to focus more on outreach, especially with one of the largest incoming Latinx classes.”
Additionally, the Board’s decision in December 2021 to plan for new grass recreation pitches has finally come to fruition; these fields are open and have been officially renamed “Spartan Greens”.
Patrick Marchal, mechanical engineering major and treasurer of the club’s men’s football team, expressed his enthusiasm for the development.
“The team is really excited to use these pitches, we started training last week and we love it,” Marchal said. “We are really excited to have a home pitch because we previously had to travel to nearby secondary schools. We had to rent courts for about $400 per game. Six home games is $2,400 we’ve saved this year.
MSU Swimming and Diving
Following the district court judge’s ruling that MSU was not Title IX compliant when eliminating the women’s varsity swimming and diving program, student-athletes, parents and administrators have been candid about reinstatement of the program.
Senior Sheridan Phalen, a former swimming and diving member, criticized the university’s stagnation.
“I was confident that whatever the problem, the students and Michigan State administration would work together to find a solution. But in the past two years, I have yet to see this attitude from this court,” Phalen said. “I’m tired of coming to these board meetings. I’m sick of hearing how much our commitment and admiration (means) to you. I did not come here to be an admiration. I became a swimmer.
Rachel Holt, a former MSU varsity swimmer from 1990 to 1994, said, “(The university’s decision) has left a void of opportunity in an incredibly large and very talented pool of young athletes.”
Senior Peter Corsetti echoed Phalen and Holt’s words as he stood in front of the board.
“For every effort we made, messages were ignored, doors were closed or inexplicable opposition was given directly by those we are supposed to call Spartans,” Corsetti said.
Several of the board trustees expressed their support for the swim and dive team, including trustees Renee Knake Jefferson and Kelly Tebay.
Knake Jefferson apologized for the loss of the swim and dive program, as well as what the students had to endure. She said she hoped to continue discussing the possibility of bringing the program back.
“I regret my vote in the decision to remove MSU’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving team from Michigan State’s athletic program,” Tebay said. “I would say that if the vote was held today, I would absolutely vote to restore it.”
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