Thursday, March 4, 2021

Newly established group "Pissed Off MSU" plans for activism

September 24, 2018
The crowd listens to the speakers on Jan. 26, 2018 at The Rock. The peaceful protest was organized by students in support of sexual assault survivors and demanding change from Michigan State University in the wake of the Nassar abuse scandal.
The crowd listens to the speakers on Jan. 26, 2018 at The Rock. The peaceful protest was organized by students in support of sexual assault survivors and demanding change from Michigan State University in the wake of the Nassar abuse scandal. —
Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

With an aim of using direct action to leave an impact on the community, Pissed Off MSU is a recently established on-campus activist organization composed of alumni, students, faculty and staff. 

Members of Pissed Off MSU hopes to build a grassroots movement against university fallouts and cover ups, Duncan Tarr, an alumnus who works for the university, said. 

"The question is, how much could we accomplish if there was campus-wide solidarity that crossed student and faculty lines, that crossed organizational lines, that unions were involved in, that secretaries and janitors were involved in, that undergraduates were involved in, that every college were involved in," Tarr said. "That’s a big project, but I think that’s the dream for this group." 

The early stages of the organization began when white nationalist Richard Spencer came to campus, resulting in many groups, including individuals who later formed Pissed Off MSU, to organize protests against his scheduled appearance. 

As the year progressed and MSU continued to make headlines throughout the spring semester, Pissed Off MSU became official.

The group said it hopes to build off of other forms of activism expressed throughout the campus community, including the vote of no confidence among the faculty senate and the work Reclaim MSU has done.

“We would like to connect with other MSU people or MSU organizations that are sick of the way the administration has been dealing with things and want to organize and take action collectively," Tarr said.   

During the summer, Pissed Off MSU created a "Disorientation Guide," which was handed out during Sparticipation, group member Zoe Jackson, who also is an alumnus who works for the university, said. 

The guide is a timeline of student resistance at MSU, starting from the founding of the university, leading to ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar and Richard Spencer coming to campus.  

“Often, the administration relies on students forgetting or not knowing what the history of the university has been, or the power that students, faculty and staff had in the past," Jackson said. 

Having held three meetings during the 2018-19 academic school year so far, Pissed of MSU is in an outreach phase. 

Members of the organization have been meeting with other groups across campus to take note of their grievances, James Madison freshman Jonathan Suan said. He said they hope to formalize a way to work with these groups, including Reclaim MSU, toward direct action. 

"Historically at least, they [Reclaim MSU] have been more focused on, or at least put a lot of their attention towards policy reform," alumna and group member Erin Paskus said. "And we are more focused on direct action at the university level." 

The group consists of around 20 people and Tarr said building up membership is not a priority, but gathering together, building solidarity and discussing change is. 

"This is how we feel, there’s plenty of people are the university that feel similarly," Tarr said, "and we want to get in a room and talk and figure out some way to move forward." 

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