Students United marches to Capitol to protest tuition hikes, other issues
Playing flutes, drums, violins, trumpets and wielding a sign portraying MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon as a giant purple octopus, MSU Students United held a march to the Capitol on Friday to protest tuition hikes, among other things.
Students United, together with around 40 students who joined the march, also demanded better handling of sexual assault cases, an immediate and permanent freeze on tuition hikes, an amendment to student debt relief policy, a larger representation of minority students and 50 percent student representation on the MSU Board of Trustees.
Although Michigan legislators were currently on recess, Students United still marched through campus and to the Capitol Building.
Students United Organizer Duncan Tarr said he wanted to show the university enough students cared about these issues to march to the Capitol on a Friday.
"Basically the situation is that the administration doesn't take student voice seriously," Tarr said. "The trustees won't respond to your emails and Simon won't meet with you."
MSU Spokesman Jason Cody said university officials have reviewed the group's demands, but noted many of the demands are outside of MSU's realm of control.
To obtain 50 percent representation on the Board of Trustees, students would have to run for election and garner enough votes to be on the board.
Tarr said because ASMSU, MSU's undergraduate student government, is now part of the administration, it is not in the position to demand change on behalf of students.
"ASMSU can only do so much when it comes to actually challenging administration policy, through no fault of their own because their autonomy has been taken away," Tarr said. "There needs to be a group outside of the administration that doesn't draw its power from the administration in order to talk about issues."
Students United demanded higher education funding to be returned to the level it was before Gov. Rick Snyder took office, a demand that would have to be considered by state legislators.
Concerned community members came to show their support of Students United as well, one of them being MSU alumnus Sam Ryan.
"I think it's absurd how tuition is going up so much and it doesn't reflect our standing in the globalized world," Ryan said. "The state is cutting funding to education and they're just dropping education on the priority list and I don't think that is right, I don't think thats what we ought to be doing."
Students from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor drove to East Lansing to show solidarity with MSU Students United, who faced many of the same issues that U-M students face, especially when it comes to sexual assault on campus.
"We are all fighting for the same things," U-M social theory and practice sophomore Cassadra Van Dam said. "Currently rape cases are so underreported and schools aren't making an effort... I want to make it visible and known that we're not going to put up with this anymore."