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Assembly at rock on Farm Lane discusses on-campus race issues

October 18, 2012
	<p>Doctoral student Zain Shamoon talks during a gathering led by the College Assistance Migrant Program Scholars Initiative (<span class="caps">CAMP</span>) on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 by the rock on Farm Lane. Shamoon, who is not a part of <span class="caps">CAMP</span>, decided to join the group to discuss issues with the administration. Julia Nagy/The State News</p>

Doctoral student Zain Shamoon talks during a gathering led by the College Assistance Migrant Program Scholars Initiative (CAMP) on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 by the rock on Farm Lane. Shamoon, who is not a part of CAMP, decided to join the group to discuss issues with the administration. Julia Nagy/The State News

Photo by Julia Nagy | The State News

Editor’s note: The full name of the CAMP organization has been changed to properly reflect the organization’s title.

For linguistics and philosophy junior Adam Liter, giving a voice to the unheard is a purpose he holds close to his heart.

“It seems like there are a lot of people that are having issues on campus, (and) it’s not clear that the university is doing the best job of addressing them,” he said. “One of the things that we’re trying to accomplish is figuring out how to get students to have more of a say.”

Liter, a member of the MSU Collective Activists Mediating for Progress, or CAMP, was one of the students who took part in the first General Assembly for Student Power. Throughout Thursday evening, students braved the cold outside the rock on Farm Lane to discuss issues of racism and other forms of social prejudice that occur across campus.

“It’s just too bad when there are these events going on around campus with no change,” Liter said. “It just doesn’t seem like the students have the ability to articulate that to the university.”

According to international relations senior Tabitha Skervin, who collaborated with Liter on the event, the idea for the General Assembly was meant to address the number of problems observed on campus and the lack of concern they believe the university exemplified.

“At the end of the day, with all the stuff that’s been happening with racism on campus, we think a lot of the ways the university handles some challenges is a systematic problem,” she said. “We basically just want to have more of a voice on campus and have more leeway with the money they’re spending.”

Although attendance at the event was low, the issues advocated at the event have recently been a major topic of debate. According to Meaghan Kozar, a coordinator for the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, issues of racism and hostility have long been a problem at MSU.

“I think it’s important to reinforce the idea that these problems are out there,” she said. “Even if it’s just in the form of a joke on Twitter, there is still a perception with many people that MSU should be limited to only one demographic.”

Last week, Kozar and the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions hosted OUR MSU, an event to battle isolation and oppression for minority students and other groups at MSU. Kozar added that getting students to open up to the problems is the first step toward the solution.

“We need to reaffirm the idea that MSU is just as much yours as theirs and not something limited to one group of people,” she said.

Although the challenge is an uphill battle, in Skervin’s opinion, helping students realize the power is a great way of initiating larger change.

“I think that you can always try to change the students and the ideas they have, but a lot of the time, it’s the policy that needs to change in order to sway the masses,” she said.

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