Brianna Scott and Kelly Tebay won the two open seats on the MSU Board of Trustees.
Democratic candidates Scott and Tebay won the spots over third and fourth place Republicans Dave Dutch and Mike Miller. The four candidates all had at least 22.7 percent of the vote as of 5 p.m. Nov. 7. Scott, the leader, had 24.01 percent.
They will replace Trustees Mitch Lyons and Brian Breslin, who decided not to run for re-election after their terms were up.
Scott is an attorney and former prosecutor who worked on criminal sex cases and Tebay is a recent graduate and survivor of sexual assault.
This race was of particular importance to MSU students, some of whom called for the Board of Trustees to resign in light of criticism of the university’s inaction and for mishandling reports of ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse.
Both Scott and Tebay said they hope to be a part of a cultural change at MSU.
“People heard my message,” Scott said. “People believe I am the change agent that can make a difference at Michigan State.”
Beating all other candidates by 32,261 votes, Scott had the most votes as of 5 p.m. Nov. 7.
Brianna Scott’s mother, Asaline Scott, said her daughter was “a dark horse” because of her background.
“She’s gone through life experiences that have prepared her for this day, for this time,” Asaline Scott said. “She can identify with many things that are going on right now on campus.”
At age 20, Scott was a student at MSU while she was pregnant. Although she struggled balancing two jobs, classes, being the president of her sorority and taking care of her child, she got through it with support from the community.
She later went on to law school at Wayne State University and now works as an attorney in Muskegon, where she’s from. Her son now attends MSU.
“Being a minority woman, someone that struggled myself when I was on campus, who was on welfare, who was poor and struggled to graduate financially,” Scott said. “I really can relate to what other people are struggling with.”
Scott’s family, friends and colleagues said she won because of her heart.
“She has a heart of gold, she’s compassionate,” Asaline Scott said. “She wants to serve, she has that humility and that spirit where she wants to help. She will help. She is a go getter, a fighter.”
Scott’s younger sister, Stephanie Fagerman, said she looked up to Scott.
“She just inspired me — seeing how she saw what was happening, she knew she could make a difference and she stuck to it,” Fagerman said. “Coming from a small city like Muskegon, she has been groomed for this position because of all the work and outreach she has done within Michigan, standing up for people.”
Fagerman recalled a time when hate speech was graffitied onto buildings in Muskegon and how Scott took a stand against it and presented a speech at a Love Lives Here Campaign and Rally.
“That’s what Michigan State needs right now,” Fagerman said. “Someone to hear the students and to stand up for them. And that’s Brianna. Her number one thing is making campus safe, and that’s how she’s going to do it, just like she did with the graffiti."
Scott said she decided to run because of the lack of empathy she noticed in the administration, which was reaffirmed to her when she attended a Board of Trustees meeting in April.
“Seeing how the survivors and their families were treated and how dismissive I felt that Interim President Engler was toward them,” Scott said. “I just felt like we needed a better example.”
Some of her priorities include diversity and inclusion, sexual assault prevention, transparency and tackling tuition costs.
“It just makes me feel really good to know that all of my hard work over all of these months paid off,” Scott said.
Trailing Scott in votes, Tebay secured the second seat with a 16,331 vote lead over third-place Miller as of 5 p.m. Nov. 7.
Tebay is now the youngest member of the MSU Board of Trustees.
“I’m very humbled by it and just thinking about what it means to be a trustee representing the students, faculty and staff as well as the alumni and the people of Michigan,” Tebay said. “I’m really feeling empowered to get a lot done and I’m looking forward to working with all of these groups to figure out some of the solutions that we need to make Michigan State a place that we can all be proud of again.”
At her freshman orientation, Tebay was told one in four women would be sexually assaulted during their time at MSU.
“That was the tone they set for us on day one, and unfortunately for me, I became that statistic my freshman year,” Tebay said. “When we’re having these conversations about sexual assault on campus, it’s personal for me.”
She is committed to ensuring no one experiences what she did on campus. Having only graduated about five years ago, Tebay said she has a better understanding of campus climate, the current culture and the needs of students.
Scott and Tebay are already working with the community — and as candidates — they both signed Reclaim MSU’s candidate pledge, agreeing with their two-part policy proposal that students and faculty should have a voice on the board.
Scott and Tebay already received support from the MSU community, including Trustee Brian Mosallam. In a tweet, he said they will lead the university “into a brighter future, push the climate of our campus forward, and regain the trust of our students and faculty.”
“For me, most importantly, the support that we need the most is definitely from the students, faculty, staff and alumni,” Tebay said. “Those are the people that are key in figuring out what are the best things for everyone on campus, and how do we work together to create an environment where students feel safe ... and faculty and staff can be proud to teach at Michigan State. That’s really important to me as a board member.”