Betsy DeVos invited as keynote speaker for opening of new MSU Grand Rapids Research Center
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been invited to speak at the opening ceremony of the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center on Sept. 20, MSU spokesman Jason Cody confirmed Thursday afternoon.
DeVos’ invitation has drawn considerable ire from students, faculty and staff involved with the Research Center, Sarah Kelly, a PhD candidate at MSU who will work in the building, said.
Those involved have drawn up a petition imploring MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Dr. Norman Beauchamp, Dean of the College of Human Medicine, to rescind DeVos’s invitation immediately.
“She has lobbied for the privatization of US public education,” Kelly said. “She wants to slash millions from the public education budget, and we’re a public university. It’s really, her ideals are the antithesis of what Michigan State represents.”
The petition claims giving DeVos an “MSU-sponsored platform” sends the message that MSU’s standards can be compromised through purchase, citing gifts made by the DeVos family to the building.
“It’s accumulation of all these things that make her an inappropriate speaker for the community as a whole,” Kelly said.
No students will be allowed at the opening ceremony, Kelly said, but if the petition is unsuccessful those behind it hope to organize a nearby protest.
“It’s on a downtown street corner in Grand Rapids, so we’re hoping to just set up across the street if we’re not involved and be allowed to protest there,” Kelly said.
Officials from the College of Human Medicine could not be reached for comment.
City Editor Riley Murdock contributed reporting to this article.