From band sexual harassment to Trump's victory: 2016-17 in review
It has been a long year at MSU. Take a look back at some of the more noteworthy events during the 2016-17 school year.
Women's Lounge Closes
On July 7, 2016, University of Michigan-Flint professor Mark Perry filed a civil rights complaint against MSU regarding the women's only study lounge. Perry argued the women's lounge violated Title IX, discriminating against men by failing to provide them with the same type of area.
After an investigation, MSU determined the lounge did in fact violate Title IX and would effectively be turned into a gender neutral study lounge. MSU women reacted to the news of the 92-year-old lounge shutting down with protests and petitions. Despite the thousands of signatures on a petition created by undergraduate students on change.org and numerous public protests and sit-ins, the university officially converted the lounge to be for all genders the start of the 2016-17 school year.
Leading up to the election
A number of political speakers came to MSU just before the 2016 presidential election, lobbying for one candidate or another.
On Sept. 22, 2016, Chelsea Clinton gave a speech at the Union to campaign for her mother, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Clinton spoke of her mother's plan, achievements and then took questions from the crowd.
In March of 2016, then-Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visited MSU while on his own campaign trail. On Oct. 5, 2016, Sanders held a rally on Adams Field in support of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Sanders spoke about the rights for women, college debt, the LGBT community and the homeless population. Sanders also emphasized the importance of voting and urged all students to vote.
On Nov. 2, 2016 Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., spoke at the Union in support of his father's presidential campaign. Trump Jr. spoke on the "movement" that was his father's campaign and urged students to reject Hillary Clinton's political corruption.
Outside of the event, protesters gathered and chanted things like, "MSU supports racism."
East Lansing City Council Changes Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day
Each year, protests by Native American groups across campus and the community urged new legislation to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day. On Sept. 27, 2016, East Lansing City Council officially made the change.
Groups like the North American Indigenous Student Organization held celebrations to pay tribute to their ancestors. On Oct. 10, 2016, NAISO celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day with music, dancers and speakers at the Rock on Farm Lane.
Sigma Nu Investigation
In October 2016, a student found a scavenger hunt list outside of Phillips Hall. The list appeared to belong to the MSU fraternity, Sigma Nu. The list included 40 tasks for new members that called for public nudity, videos and photos of sexual behavior, pictures of kissing specific women and theft.
The fraternity was put under investigation by the university and its national leadership.
Donald Trump Wins the Presidency - Protests Ensue
Defying polls and expectations, Trump beat Clinton in the presidential race and was announced president-elect on Nov. 9, 2016. In reaction, more than 2,000 people attended a rally on Nov. 10 at the Rock, which turned into a rally across campus.
At the Rock, student groups including the MSU College Democrats, Black Poet Society and Culturas de las Razas Unidas spoke out. Once the protestors reached the Union, police blocked the doors, denying entrance into the building. Some students claimed they saw MSUPD officers with their hands positioned on their guns and felt threatened.
Election recounts in a few key states soon followed the announcement of Trump's win.
MSU Data Breach
MSU suffered a data breach by an unauthorized party on Nov. 13, 2016, exposing a database with about 400,000 records. The records contained names, social security numbers and MSU identification numbers of some current and former students and employees.
To fix the problem, MSU promised to help those affected by the breach with free credit monitoring and identity theft protection by AllClearID. As an added precaution, the university also offered 24 months of free identity protection from AllClear ID, in total costing the university $2.9 million in damage control.
Ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was charged with three counts of first-degree sexual conduct with a person under 13 on Nov. 22, 2016. This was the first of many charges.
Since then, more than 100 women have filed criminal complaints accusing him of sexual abuse, after he allegedly would slip his ungloved hand under the victims' clothes, penetrating and fondling without explanation.
Trump's Travel Ban
On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order barring immigrants of seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling into the United States for 90 days. The order also suspended the admissions of refugees for 120 days.
East Lansing City Council vowed not to comply with the executive order. In a heated city council meeting on Jan. 31 Mayor Mark Meadows stated,
"In this case, I think the executive order that I just referred to is completely unconstitutional because the president does not have the authority to legislate. Given that there is no penalty for violating 1373, the executive order cannot create one, which it has tried to do, and in addition to that 8 U.S.C. 1373 is an unconstitutional activity of Congress, in violation of the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution."
That same day hundreds of people gathered at the Rock for the No Ban, No Wall: Spartans for Sanctuary and Solidarity Rally protesting the executive order and standing in solidarity with Muslim students.
MSU Football Sexual Assaults
In February, three MSU student-athletes and one staff member part of the MSU football program were suspended pending a sexual assault investigation. In April, a fourth MSU football player was put under investigation for criminal sexual misconduct, completely separate from the already ongoing investigation of the three MSU football payers and the staff member.
That player, Auston Robertson, was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct by the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office on April 21. According to court documents, Robertson allegedly raped an acquaintance on April 9 in her apartment while his girlfriend waited outside in the car.
The allegations and investigations have shaken up the MSU football program and cast a shadow over the team.
Band Director's Sexual Harassment
John T. Madden, the director of the Spartan Marching Band for 27 years, was found to be sexually harassing a student in February 2016.
"Pics of your dress are required … Discreetly of course," Madden wrote in a text message to the student on Feb. 20, 2016 at about 10:42 p.m. The student was a female member of the Spartan Marching Band and in that text message, Madden was asking for photos of her dress she wore to the annual Spartan Marching Band end of the year band banquet.
According to documents that were given to The State News from a victim of sexual harassment, the student maintained contact with Madden via text message because of her position in the band. However, this was not the first time Madden texted the student regarding "more personal" things.
According to the documents, after the incident the student "couldn't sleep or eat for an entire week and felt 'creeped out.'" After an investigation conducted by MSU's Office of Institutional Equity into improper conduct, Madden's disciplinary actions included: "a one-week suspension from May 27 to June 3, 2016, where Madden was not allowed to be on campus or represent MSU in any capacity, a delay of his promotion to a full-time professor until Oct. 1, 2016 and a ban from the 2017 Huddle."
The student chose not to return to campus.
Lorenzo Santavicca Re-elected for Second Term at ASMSU
Amid a year riddled with resignations, transparency questions, issues with minority groups, censoring controversy and lack of interest, ASMSU president Lorenzo Santavicca was re-elected as president of ASMSU for the 2017-18 school year.