Sunday, September 20, 2020

MSU students hold sit-in over Women's Lounge

September 1, 2016
From left, Women's studies and interdisciplinary studies senior Hannah Miller, zoology senior Alyse Maksimoski, and doctoral student Elise Dixon talk about the petition to take back the women's study lounge while Everardo Cuevas signs the petituin on August 31, 2016 in the Union.
From left, Women's studies and interdisciplinary studies senior Hannah Miller, zoology senior Alyse Maksimoski, and doctoral student Elise Dixon talk about the petition to take back the women's study lounge while Everardo Cuevas signs the petituin on August 31, 2016 in the Union. —
Photo by Emilia McConnell | The State News

MSU students gathered at the Union for the sit-in protest, “Take Back The Women’s Study Lounge” on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The Women’s Lounge was once an intended safe area for women to study on MSU's campus since it opened in 1925. MSU administration has converted the space to one for all genders, including a private lactation area that opened August 2016.

Zoology senior Alyse Maksimoski took a stand by creating the Facebook protest event, “Take Back The Women’s Study Lounge."

Maksimoski was working at the University of Massachusetts Amherst when she heard the Women's Lounge would be closing.

"I felt embarrassed, I no longer felt proud of my university," Maksimoski said. "There is no way I can brag about the university when they don’t treat me with the same respect that I hold them to."

Maksimoski created the Facebook protest event on July 18, shortly after she heard about the closing.

"We want equitable treatment, and that’s what this is really about," Maksimoski said. "At Michigan State University we as women experience life differently than men experience life at Michigan State University. That's a fact." 

With nearly 600 petition signatures and people filtering in and out throughout the day, MSU students shared why they believe the Women's Lounge is still needed at the university.

"I am a survivor of sexual assault," doctoral student Apryl Pooley said. "I felt having a women's study lounge was a sign from the university that they recognize that women still face struggles on this campus."

Taking away the Women's Lounge feels as though the university is saying women no longer need the space, which is not true, Pooley said.

As the sun began to set at approximately 8 p.m., Maksimoski moved the protest outside on the steps of the Union to exchange testimonies and stories from those who wish to keep the Women's Lounge alive.

All genders were present during the testimonies to help bring back the Women's Lounge.

"I think it is pretty ridiculous that they would close down the study lounge," music education senior Jacob Fortman said. "It's a statistic that women are more vulnerable to things like sexual assault, so it only makes sense there is a safe place for women."

Many stood on the steps of the Union and told their emotional stories, as the 91 years of history of the Women's Lounge disappeared without a discussion between the students and MSU.

"The university is not hearing us, and we want it to be heard," Maksimoski said. "We’re going make them hear us, and we’re going be loud about it.”

"Take Back The Women's Lounge" ended at 2 a.m. on Thursday. However, for those who were not able to attend the protest, Maksimoski said she plans to post the petition online so everyone has the opportunity to sign for the Women's Lounge.

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