2014 in review
The year began with a Rose Bowl and ended with fervent activism
It might not feel like it, as students face days of studying and a week of final exams, but 2014 is almost over.
It’s hard to imagine a better start to a year for MSU students than a Rose Bowl victory. Or a bigger honor than a presidential visit. But this year was also marked by violence and controversy.
In response, however, students didn’t sit idly by. It was a year of fervent action and protest — most notably against the issues of police brutality and sexual assault.
Former walk-on Kyler Elsworth sealed a 24-20 win for the fourth-ranked Spartans against No. 5 Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl with his late-game aerial tackle on Cardinal fullback Ryan Hewitt on fourth-and-1.
MSU ended its longest Rose Bowl drought since its maiden voyage to Pasadena, California, in 1954 with a win and improved its record to 4-1 in the legendary game.
And more than that — the Spartans solidified their status as a top-tier football team.
“We should be (considered) elite. We’re top five. Anytime you talk about college football, Michigan State should be named,” said former cornerback Darqueze Dennard after the victory.
MSU was considered a top team going into the 2014 season. Despite disappointing losses to Oregon and Ohio State, MSU finished the season with a 10-2 record and a shot at some of the most elite bowl games in college football.
Hello, Mr. President
President Obama paid a visit to MSUto sign the farm bill — officially known as the Agriculture Act of 2014 — which ended direct payment subsidies to farmers, which is cash directly paid to farmers to raise the price of the crops they grow, regardless of circumstance. Ending the subsidies will cut spending by $23.3 billion.
He signed the bill at MSU because of the school’s rich agricultural history and to acknowledge Senator Debbie Stabenow, an MSU alumna who championed the legislation.
It was a year marked by violent threats, but fortunately none of them came to fruition.
It began when Spartan Stadium and surrounding buildings were evacuated July 2 for a bomb scare that ended up proving false.
Lansing resident Anthony Shearer and his girlfriend, Cynthia Spade, were arrested for making the threat, though only Spade was eventually charged.
As recently as the week before Thanksgiving, two more false but violent threats were made. After a shooting threat announced via social media app Yik Yak and a false bomb threat to all of campus, one MSU student is in custody and police are still investigating the bomb threat.
Last Monday police issued a lockdown for East Lansing schools after a vague shooting threat was reported on Yik Yak. On Tuesday, finance freshman Matthew Michael Mullen, 19, was arraigned in East Lansing’s 54-B District Court by Judge Richard Ball. Mullen is facing terrorism charges.
That Tuesday police again found themselves dealing with a threat of violence, as a bomb threat was reported to campus. After the announcement, a secure in place order was issued for all campus buildings, although some buildings remained unlocked. Students on Twitter reported multiple buildings were evacuated.
The secure in place advisory was lifted after MSU police found the threat to be “a hoax,” and deemed campus safe. The entire ordeal lasted about a half-hour.
Gone too soon
Nine students lost their lives this year. In this semester alone, three students have died.
Senior Navanjeet Singh Sahi, 21, died in October from what police believe are natural causes.
Accounting senior Morgan McGregor was found dead in September. Her fellow Pi Beta Phi sisters paid tribute to her with a memorial at the rock on Farm Lane.
The toxicology report for Jiayi Dai, who died this August, has revealed that her death was an accident.
Dai’s death was due to acute alcohol intoxication and her blood alcohol level was .415 at the time of her death.
Batman v Superman
MSU’s very own Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum served as the set for scenes from “ .”
Construction around the museum fueled initial speculation that filming would occur there. Crews installed artificial walls and hedges made from plywood near Grand River Avenue on the north side of the museum, and another smaller structure partially blocking the windows looking into the museum. It’s rumored that the Broad served as the house of Lex Luthor, a character in the film.
Actor and the film’s star Ben Affleck even paid a visit to MSU football’s practice.
A familiar face will be behind the desk at Michigan’s Capitol for the next four years.
Gov. Rick Snyder won a second term over Democrat challenger and MSU alumnus Mark Schauer, with 51 percent of the vote.
“We’re going to fill tens of thousands of skilled trade jobs,” Snyder said the night of his victory. “We’re going to help young people find careers and get them their start. We are going to lead the nation in that.”
Democrat Gary Peters, also an MSU alumnus, won the open U.S. Senate seat. Otherwise, it was a red election, with Republican majorities in both Michigan and federal Congress.
And East Lansing’s proposal asking residents to authorize the city to sell parking lots to private developers didn’t pass.
Although the ballot proposal was not linked to the Park District project, the city had planned to sell those properties to DTN Management Co., the private developer looking to be chosen for the construction of the Park District redevelopment. DTN then dropped out of the project.
“A lot of people who voted yes on the proposal just wanted to see something done, they don’t necessarily know about all the history. They just see that corner and want to build something,” East Lansing resident Jeffrey Hank said. “A lot of people who voted no also want to see something done, but they don’t trust city hall or city council.”
A timeline for redevelopment over the long-blighted area remains unknown.
After eight years, two Big Ten championships and one Rose Bowl title later, Mark Dantonio won his 100th game as MSU football’s head coach, on the road against Indiana this year.
“I really didn’t look at 100 games,” he said. “That’s almost unthinkable when you’re starting at No. 1. I think we tried to do it the right way and I think there’s been consistency in what we’ve done.”
Another coach faced an enormous milestone this year — men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo has begun his 20th season at the helm.
Like Dantonio, Izzo has remained humble but satisfied with his program’s progress.
“You know, I never thought about it until everybody started making a big deal about 20,” Izzo said. “Twenty is just a number. What’s the difference from 19? It’s a one year difference ... what makes me feel good is that we’ve been able to consistently hang in that pretty solid way of running our program.”
It’s On Us
Last spring MSU became one of now to be under federal investigation for how sexual assault cases were handled.
As a response to the issue, President Barack Obama launched the “ ” campaign in September to raise awareness and put an end to sexual assault at campuses across the country.
The campaign has mobilized student organizations like the Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Team, ASMSU and the MSU Interfraternity Council.
Neuroscience and anthropology senior Mariah Hall, an executive board member for the Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Team, said it was an issue all college students should be aware of.
“We’re not going to stand for it as a university,” she said.
Amid the activities of the , sponsored and organized by ASMSU and other student groups on campus, was an allegation put forth by ASMSU officers that the MSU Counseling Center has almost a month-long waiting time for students seeking help with sexual assault.
Questioning law enforcement
Hundreds of students have come together to march against law enforcement this year, inspired in part by ongoing protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Members of the MSU Black Student Alliance, MSU Students United, the Graduate Employees Union and the North American Indigenous Student Organization, among other student groups, helped to stage the first march in October.
These organizations also presented a list of demands to the East Lansing Police Department asking for the disposal of military surplus equipment and the adoption of body camera technology.
The ELPD later responding to the group’s demands and commenting that they have looked into the body camera technology and are hoping to gain funding in the next few years. Some students, unsatisfied with the response, protested a second time earlier this month.
Students also gathered at the rock last Monday in response to the d , whose shots killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
Black Student Alliance President Rashad Timmons previously told The State News that the decision made by the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, was an unsurprising one.
“I hate to say it was expected ... because there is a historical prevalence of this type of behavior in this type of incident with no repercussions and no type of conviction happening over and over in the history of our nation,” Timmons said.