Thursday, October 29, 2020

Reclaim MSU plans to continue advocacy during presidential search

September 21, 2018
Protesters from Reclaim MSU hold signs during the Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 16, 2018 at the Hannah Administration Building. (Nic Antaya | The State News)
Protesters from Reclaim MSU hold signs during the Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 16, 2018 at the Hannah Administration Building. (Nic Antaya | The State News) —

Reclaim MSU, a student and faculty group created in light of the university's handling of reports against ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar's abuse, held a meeting on Thursday, where they discussed advocacy during the presidential search process. 

James Madison professor and Reclaim member Anna Pegler-Gordon said the group thinks the presidential search process should be written into the MSU Board of Trustees' bylaws as an open, transparent and inclusive search.

"Currently, they (the board) have lots of things written into bylaws for how awesome the alumni are and all kinds of random things that are important, but they don't have anything about how they have to conduct a presidential search," Pegler-Gordon said. "Which is why we had the 30 minutes behind closed doors to elect Lou Anna Simon president and then we also had Engler.”

Pegler-Gordon said the board did nothing when the group previously proposed to change the bylaws.

"They're clearly just doing that because they're worried that things are actually going to change at the university and they don't want that to happen," she said.

Reclaim MSU also created a proposed constitutional amendment, which includes reducing the trustees' terms from eight years to four years and limiting it to two terms.

 "The constitutional amendment would also include four additional people, community members–two faculty and two students–on the Board of Trustees," Pegler-Gordon said. 

Reclaim MSU would like to push for a larger student and faculty voice in the presidential search, Pegler-Gordon said.

The group will be active during the presidential search by announcing a draft criteria at the presidential search committee input sessions.  

The criteria will highlight a desire to find a president with a deep understanding of sexual violence “that has the well-being of the community first and foremost in their mind.”

Reclaim member Natalie Rogers said the group is "reclaiming the administration and direction of the university to be inclusive, accountable, transparent and to put the well-being of students, staff and faculty first and foremost at all times. "

Rogers explained the group’s continued intention to push its released policy proposal, in which Reclaim MSU calls for "an open and inclusive presidential search, a university board that would vote alongside the board and act as a check on them and be included in their procedures and, eventually, it would change the Michigan Constitution to put students and faculty on the Board of Trustees.” 

In addition to its involvement with the presidential search, Rogers said that Reclaim MSU will continue to enforce the message “to advocate for change, increased transparency, increased accountability on campus.”

Aside from a “teal out” for the homecoming football game, the group does not currently have any events or demonstrations scheduled. However, it does hope to gain a larger involvement to facilitate change at the university.

“For a social movement to happen, we need more people," Katie Paulot, Reclaim MSU member, said. “I don’t know how more Spartans aren’t here and more Spartans aren’t mad, so we have to fix that.”

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