ASMSU and COGS: MSU wasn't transparent in decision to remove Women's Lounge
On July 18, 2016, the student body of MSU was informed that the Women’s Lounge in the MSU Union would be closing effective for the upcoming academic year. We understand that compliance with Title IX was the catalyst for this necessary change, but are collectively disappointed that our administrators failed to make us aware that any such transformation of a highly utilized, historic and revered space would occur, especially over the summer semester. We are also jointly dismayed that our knowledge of this change came via a Lansing State Journal news article.
The Women’s Lounge was established in 1925, and has been a staple on the first floor of the MSU Union for nearly 100 years and has served as “a safe refuge, haven for reflection, study and solitude”. It goes without saying that the closure of this space will have a significant impact on women at all levels acrossthe University. Many of you have expressed frustration and sadness over this situation and we echo your sentiments. We have been informed that the renovation and construction has begun and a new co-ed space will replace the beloved Women’s Lounge. The floor plans include lactation rooms for nursing mothers in the restroom of the new space. While this is not a perfect compromise, we are encouraged to see that the needs of women have not entirely been discarded.
The Women’s Lounge is not alone in the recent resource closures. The Women’s Resource Center was closed and restructured into the new MSU WorkLife Office. This new office does not have a mandate to be a student-resource center. We have raised our concerns with MSU Student Affairs and Services and were assured that processes will be in place to include student input in the creation and development of new resources that meet the health, safety and wellness needs of women on our campus and will include a review of resources for men as well.
As the student body presidents we both equally strive to have open and honest dialogue with our administrators surrounding issues that are key to our constituents. We strongly urge our administrators to be equally as transparent when decisions are made that impact our student community. While we understand that not all decisions to reimagine spaces for alignment, compliance and regulatory purposes will receive a positive reception, seeking student input on these changes will show that our contributions are valued.
As always, we remain committed to the inclusion of the student voices in decision-making processes and will continue to advocate for you, our peers during these difficult times. With your help we will work toward a campus that incorporates the feedback presented by our collective student body, with earnest reception by our administration.