Sunday, November 28, 2021

Infiltration story full of inconsistencies

Am I missing something or have others also noted an inconsistency in the administration’s explanation of police infiltration of Students for Economic Justice?

On the one hand, MSU police Chief Bruce Benson responded to a Freedom of Information Act request for records and notes of the undercover operation by saying he destroyed them because they were no longer necessary.

On the other hand, in grasping for straws to justify police spying on a legitimate student organization, President M. Peter McPherson connected a member of the group with the ongoing investigation of the 1999 arson at Agriculture Hall.

But the administration can’t have it both ways. If the undercover operation was connected with the ongoing investigation of the Agriculture Hall fire, there was no justification (apart from having something to hide) for destroying the records and notes. If notes and records were destroyed, the connection with the Agriculture Hall fire appears to be pure fabrication.

There’s a wonderful Yiddish expression to the effect that “You can’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining.” I don’t know about you, but when I hear the administration’s explanation of this shameful episode I feel my back getting wet - and there’s not a cloud in the sky.

This university was founded as MAC (Michigan Agricultural College). As course offerings expanded it became MSC (Michigan State College). The creation of graduate courses and degree programs then led to its being renamed MSU (Michigan State University).

If those of us who care about free expression let the administration get away with this kind of police spying and intimidation, there may be another name change in our future - from MSU to MPSU (Michigan Police State University).

Martin Benjamin
philosophy professor


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