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Looking back on E.L., MSU's most important stories of summer 2013

August 11, 2013
	<p>Rapper Ludacris performs on stage, July 14, 2013, at Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing during the last day of Common Ground Music Festival. The day&#8217;s lineup was dominated by hip-hop and rappers. Justin Wan/The State News</p>

Rapper Ludacris performs on stage, July 14, 2013, at Adado Riverfront Park in Lansing during the last day of Common Ground Music Festival. The day’s lineup was dominated by hip-hop and rappers. Justin Wan/The State News

Photo by Justin Wan | The State News

Among ASMSU nearly losing its funding, an academic building fire and a sexual assault suspect on the loose, summer in East Lansing was nothing short of eventful. With classes soon to start and fall approaching, The State News decided to take a look back on the summer and recap the biggest news events.

Sexual assault spree

A slew of sexual assaults took place in town during April and May, which have since remained unresolved. The East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, still is searching for the suspect and have released a composite of the suspect. All three victims were MSU students.

The first assault, which took place on Coolidge Road, occurred on April 20 around midnight. The suspect dragged the victim to a secluded area where he physically and sexually assaulted her.

Two similar attacks happened soon after, which ELPD believes were made by the same suspect. On April 26, another incident took place where the suspect dragged the victim to a secluded area. He physically assaulted her and attempted to sexually assault her. The last incident took place on May 16 outside of Abbott Pointe Apartments. The suspect again dragged the victim behind a dumpster where he physically and sexually assaulted her.

Cannon sentenced

On May 8, Eastpointe, Mich., resident Marquez Cannon was sentenced to six to 20 years in prison in Mason’s 30th Circuit Court for one count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.

Cannon was one of the two suspects arrested after Olivia Pryor was found dead in her Hubbard Hall dorm room on March 19, 2012.

“The anguish can never be adequately described,” Pryor’s mother, Cynthia Pryor, said in a previous statement. “Each and every one of us would give anything to have her here with us. Our family has just endured the worst 14 months of our lives.”

Cannon, 18, took full responsibility for the occurrence and told the judge he would serve his time with his head held high. Although alcohol was found to be the cause of Pryor’s death, Cannon was found standing above Pryor while she was unconscious and unclothed from the waist down

Carmack sentenced

Brandon Carmack was given a two-year probationary sentence on July 31 before Ingham Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

After seeking his ex-girlfriend, Therese Kerr, on the night of Aug. 27, 2012, witnesses say that Carmack grabbed Kerr by the neck and shoulders, yelling at her until other males at the party intervened.

Carmack faced charges of filing a false report of a misdemeanor, third-degree home invasion and a misdemeanor of stalking.

“We are all going to win if Mr. Carmack can take this opportunity to get rehabilitated,” Ingham County Prosecutor Andrew Stevens said in court. “He, of course, has a wonderful benefit in front of him if he can do so.”

Morrill Hall in flames

When Morrill Hall caught fire on May 15, crowds of spectators watched as what was one of the oldest buildings at MSU spewed smoke and flames.

Built in 1899, Morrill Hall was approved for demolition in June 2010 by the MSU Board of Trustees. It was built of wooden beams that had become rotten, history professor David Bailey said, and the demolition had been started a week prior to the building catching fire.

“There’s an awful lot of history and an awful lot of wonderful people who have come through that building,” Bailey said in a previous interview. “In a way, MSU never, until recently, had the funds to build buildings properly. It looked like it was sturdier than it turned out to be.”

The cause of the fire was determined as unknown with no indication of arson, MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said in a previous interview. The investigation was closed early the next week, and the building’s demolition resumed.

Board of Trustees meeting

During the MSU Board of Trustees meeting on June 21, the board approved budget and tuition rates for the 2013-14 academic year and planned preliminary rates for 2014-15. Students can expect an average rise in tuition of 2.8 percent next year.

The rise in tuition will bring a split rate between upper- and lower-level undergraduate students. It’s the first time the rates have changed separately, according to a previous State News article.

“It’s a way of signaling and having an advantage for people making that high school to college transition, but also it simply is a technical adjustment to keep those rates more in balance and keep them in the same place over time,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said during the meeting.

Additionally, during the meeting, trustees discussed the ongoing battle between administration and ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government. The board agreed that if ASMSU didn’t move all of its funds to an on-campus account by July 1, administration would determine a new means of collecting the tax.

The board also made plans to renovate Chittenden Hall — a building that has been vacant since the 1990s — Spartan Stadium’s north end zone and Munn Ice Arena’s ice plant and ventilations system.

ASMSU tension

This summer, MSU’s undergraduate student government, ASMSU, made the decision to move all funds on campus after a long and tiresome battle with administration. Representatives gathered for an emergency General Assembly meeting on June 21, where they voted 12-2 to make the transition.

“We’re not going to lose our integrity as a student organization because of certain circumstances that have arisen,” ASMSU Vice President for Student Funding Mike Mozina said in a previous interview. “We’re going to keep doing the things that we do best, and that’s engaging students at a very base level.”

The battle began back in 2010 when Maner Costerisan Certified Public Accountants performed two audits, both of which showed issues with how ASMSU was keeping track of its funds.

“We have a responsibility (because we are the collector of the student dollars) to assure that if there are audits — as there would be in any aspect of the university — that raise any questions about the financial integrity in how they use those dollars, it is our belief that the university has the responsibility to deal with it,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said during the meeting.

Common Ground

Common Ground Music Festival returned to downtown Lansing for its 14th year, featuring a variety of both local talent and nationally recognized artists. The festival kicked off on July 8 and continued for six more days, with more than 70 acts performing.

When the festival began, it focused more on classic rock, but branched out with artists such as MGMT and Ludacris this year.

“Common Ground is like the Super Bowl as far as Lansing is concerned,” rapper and member of BLAT! Pack Jahshua Smith said in a previous interview. “The opportunity to play a great card and still get the proper spotlight — that’s the culmination of everything we’ve worked so hard for over the past four years.”

Park District project

After a summer of deliberation, the East Lansing City Council chose DTN Management Co. as the preferred private development partner to revitalize the west side of downtown on Aug. 6. Known as the Park District project, the plan includes a 400-space parking structure and a 10-story building with hotel and residential units, according to a past State News article.

The Park District covers 2.82 acres of land, stretching from Abbot Road to Valley Court, near The People’s Church, Dublin Square Irish Pub and Valley Court Park.

The next step is to work on a predevelopment agreement with the city. This will detail the process of working with different companies, citizen groups and area stakeholders.

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