Residential colleges pen open letter to MSU Board of Trustees
In a noteworthy display of student ingenuity, the student councils of MSU’s residential colleges penned an open letter to the MSU Board of Trustees. In the letter, the James Madison Student Senate, The Lyman Briggs Student Advisory Council and The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Council expressed a statement of no confidence in the Board of Trustees.
The MSU Board of Trustees has been under scrutiny recently from a number of student and faculty groups on MSU’s campus. On Jan. 31, the Residential Halls Association held a unanimous vote of no confidence in the Board of Trustees. The faculty senate also plans on holding a meeting for a vote of no confidence on Feb. 13.
The meeting was held by James Madison College treasurer and social relations and policy senior Scott Lyman who, in his speech, addressed the constant disregard for students, staff and faculty the MSU Board of Trustees has displayed in electing former governor John Engler as interim president.
Lyman also said the residential colleges would stand in solidarity with the survivors. The MSU Board of Trustees has also been criticized by Michigan Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette for a lack of transparency. Recently, students, alumni and faculty held a march to express similar sentiments.
The residential college governments intended to put together a statement expressing their sentiments of the colleges in the board’s handling of the ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar trial and the aftermath.
International relations senior Sumaya Malas, who also helped coordinated the meeting, expressed similar views. Representatives from each college were gathered to hold this meeting and come to a consensus. All members of the college’s respective governments were in attendance for the meeting.
“(The open letter) includes our demands moving forward, the need for the board to consider the feedback of faculty and students as well as changing the campus climate and culture that has perpetuated this and lead this to become an issue,” Malas said.
In the open letter, which was drafted Feb. 3, the residential colleges demand, “a board of trustees that is accountable, transparent and demonstrative of compassionate leadership in working with students, faculty and staff of not only the three residential colleges on campus, but with the MSU community at large."
A point of frustration on MSU’s campus has been a lack of student and faculty representation from the Board of Trustees. In the open letter, the residential colleges address this by calling for “student and faculty representation on the Board of Trustees.”
Along with this, they also demanded opportunities for both students and faculty to provide feedback to the board during the appointment process for both interim and permanent presidents.
MSU faculty member and Lyman Briggs College Director of Student Affairs Kent Workman said he hopes this example will compel the non-residential colleges to follow suit in speaking out against the Board of Trustees just as the residential colleges have led by example in other areas, such as teaching and student-faculty relations.
The vote in support of the letter was unanimous from all three college governments.
As the meeting commenced, Lyman quoted the late Martin Luther King Jr.
“It is always the right time to do what is right," Lyman said.