Editorial: Spartans are ready to talk, MSU must be ready to react
MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam held a public town hall meeting to hear the voices and concerns of Spartans upset by how MSU has handled sexual assault incidents. The room at the Kellogg Center was booked for hundreds of people.
Nearly 5,000 showed up.
Students, faculty, staff and community members wanted to talk to someone, anyone, from the MSU administration to voice their opinions.
Thousands attended with hope they would be heard. But with so many people and only two hours booked for the event, not every person was able to voice his or her opinion.
Which begs the question: Do Spartans really have a voice if their concerns aren’t acknowledged?
On Feb. 5, ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 125 years in Eaton County for three charges of criminal sexual conduct. Nassar had already been sentenced to 60 years in federal court for three charges related to child pornography and up to 175 years in Ingham County for seven charges of criminal sexual conduct.
Nassar won’t be able to “get out” of prison until he’s at least 280 years old. Regardless, the issue isn’t over for this university, not even close. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, this is just the beginning.
In order to create change, in order for every Spartan to move forward on a united front, in order for MSU and its Spartans to learn anything from the Nassar situation, there needs to be an open, honest dialogue from both sides.
Spartans are doing their part. Thousands attended the town hall. Students and student groups have put on multiple marches. Faculty is organizing a vote of no confidence in the board.
The Rock on Farm Lane remains as it has for nearly three weeks — painted white with the words “Thank You” in teal, the color for sexual assault awareness, and a list of all of the survivor’s names.
If MSU is trying to engage in this dialogue, the community still wants more. There are three things members of the administration need to do to make sure their efforts are successful. These are the first steps toward making things right.
Be transparent. MSU’s administration says change is coming, but warn us it won’t always be seen. Why not pull back the curtain and display the moving cogs? The best way to gain back trust is for MSU to show the much-needed progress. Yes, investigations are ongoing, but updates with available information are crucial.
Be responsive. It’s not enough to hold a town hall meeting. People need to know their requests are acknowledged.
What’s the point in having a public forum if it only acts as an echo chamber, repeating ideas and desires to each other without ever seeing the light of day?
MSU needs to give Spartans an indication they have heard their ideas and, at the very least, will take them into consideration.
MSU should show they see the concerns and want to quell them. This means acknowledging individual feedback and concerns and providing specific responses.
MSU needs to be willing to speak with survivors directly. While there is an established “hierarchy” of communication — a student might go to his or her student governing body, the governing body would go to a trustee, the trustee would bring a concern to a board — MSU’s administration should be willing to break tradition.
Accessibility and communication are essential for both the well-being of the survivors, community members and the university.
The willingness to meet in this informal nature has the potential to lead to progress for all.
These three changes can change the course of the conversation. With the initiation of these ideas, communication can finally be double-sided.
Spartans are not ready to be done addressing this issue. MSU’s administration likely isn’t either. But in order for change to be most effective, most impactful, most enduring, we need consistency from both sides.
The State News Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief Rachel Fradette, Managing Editor McKenna Ross, Campus Editor Madison O’Connor, City Editor Souichi Terada, Features Editor Sasha Zidar, Sports Editor Jonathan LeBlanc, Inclusion Representative Maxwell Evans, Staff Representative Marie Weidmayer and Copy Chief Casey Holland.