ASMSU begins Stories Behind the Spartans initiative
This year, ASMSU will continue its initiative to collect the personal narratives of MSU students.
Run by the ASMSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, "Stories Behind the Spartans" began last year as a way to find out more about the backgrounds of various students and to shed light on issues.
According to the ASMSU website, the initiative's goal is to focus on students' past, present, and future in a "Humans of New York" format.
“Stories Behind the Spartans is a campaign that works to show what drives the passion of those that make up the Spartan community," the website reads. "We aim to capture each individual’s unique past, how that has affected their experience at Michigan State University, and how it continues to shape their future goals.”
ASMSU President Lorenzo Santavicca said the initiative will differ from last year because now students will be able to submit their own stories to the student government rather than the student government seeking them out.
“This year, I think that the campaign is going to be a little bit different because we are remodeling to something a little bit more different in terms of the submission tactic," Santavicca said. "This year we’re doing a little bit of a self-submission with either videos or written testimony which can be sent to us.”
To Santavicca, this is a responsibility ASMSU must fulfill for the student body.
“We started this initiative last year because we recognized as students here that there is a specific trait about listening to each other and developing empathy," Santavicca said. "And I think for us, ASMSU has this role on campus to play as a collaborator, as a communicator among students.”
At the last general assembly meeting, Santavicca outlined the promotion of the initiative this year to ASMSU representatives. Representative Isaiah Hawkins expressed pleasure that students would have the option to share their stories anonymously due to his own experience with a similar task.
“Previously to being here, I worked as an ICA, and I regularly held MRULE meetings which were intended to encourage people to report their stories," Hawkins said at the meeting. "We had conversations on the basis of race and on the basis of gender and multiculturalism, and one of the main challenges that we found while holding these discussions was the ability for the courage of people to be vulnerable.”
Santavicca reaffirmed his stance that student participation in the initiative would be empowering for those who choose to do so.
“We wanted to ask individuals to share those stories," Santavicca said. "There’s nothing that anyone can take away from you in any of those stories, and there’s nothing that anyone can deny because we all live here. So for us, we assume we’re in the position where we represent, and we serve and collect the stories of 40,000 undergraduate students at this university.”
Santavicca said ASMSU hopes to get to the root of what makes students tick, as well as what they hope and dream.
“We started this initiative because we recognize that everyone has a story," Santavicca said. "Everyone has a reason to be here at Michigan State. Everyone has a reason that they chose their program, or they chose the community that they’re part of.”
Santavicca also included that the political climate on campus helped drive this initiative to come to fruition last year.
“We knew last year that people were divided for a number of reasons on campus, be it was political, be it our national climate spilling into Michigan State University, East Lansing, and really bursting this bubble that we seem to live in, and making us have to react and be proactive,” Santavicca said.
Submissions for the initiative can be found on the ASMSU website.