Monday, September 21, 2020

ASMSU finance committee passes bill to bring Terry Crews to campus

February 26, 2019
Members attend the ASMSU General Assembly meeting in the International Center on Feb. 14, 2019. Nic Antaya/The State News
Members attend the ASMSU General Assembly meeting in the International Center on Feb. 14, 2019. Nic Antaya/The State News —
Photo by Nic Antaya | The State News

A bill that will tentatively allocate $25,000 to bring actor and former NFL player Terry Crews to campus as the keynote speaker for MSU's It's On Us week passed through the Associated Students of Michigan State University's Thursday finance committee meeting. 

"It's On Us" is a movement to end sexual assault on college campuses. Last year, MSU welcomed the creator of the #WhyIStayed social media movement, victims’ rights advocate Beverly Gooden, as the keynote speaker.

The bill noted that $75,000 is the total amount needed to bring Crews to MSU. College of Business representative Olivia Long, the introducer of the bill, explained that the Residence Halls Association and Spartan Athletics both offered to contribute $25,000, meaning ASMSU’s allocation would complete the total. The allocation is tentative, so if Crews cannot attend, the money will go back into ASMSU’s general fund.

“We are here to serve the students,” Long said. “Other organizations have already taken the step by committing to donating this money and if we didn't do the same, then how can we say that we are speaking for our constituents who have already expressed interest in having this event?”

In 2017, Crews made public his story of being sexually assaulted. Since then, he has been an activist and supporter of sexual assault survivors. 

“I particularly like the idea of Terry Crews coming because he focuses on a side of sexual assault that we don’t always talk about," College of Natural Science representative Katherine Gray, who seconded the bill, said. "A lot of time we don’t focus on the fact that men are also sexually assaulted, and I think that is something we need to talk about more."

Aside from being a survivor himself, Crews has addressed MSU specifically and its controversies surrounding sexual assault and the university-wide fallout from the Larry Nassar scandal. On Jan. 16, Crews called for the resignation of former Interim President John Engler in a tweet.

Long said “it would be a healing for the MSU community” to see somebody of such status, who also cares about what the MSU community has been through, come to campus to speak. 

However, Alliance for Queer and Allied Students representative Colin Wiebrecht mentioned a point of concern with bringing Crews to campus. In 2017, Crews captioned an Instagram post, “Why is it considered perfectly fine to be transgender, but deemed totally unacceptable to be transracial." Wiebrecht brought this up to the committee during discussion. 

“I just think it's something to be aware of when we are bringing a high profile speaker to campus,” Wiebrecht said. 

Others, including College of Engineering representative Ryan Aridi, expressed concern with the price tag of this allocation.

“I am really skeptical of this because I don’t know if it’s within the student government’s job to actually allocate $25,000,” Aridi said. “I understand this is for It’s On Us week, but that being said, this is still an entertainer — so it’s really pushing it.”

In response to Aridi's skepticism, Chief of Staff Jack Person explained that Crews books entertaining events separately from professional speaking events.

Regardless, the bill still passed unanimously with a vote of 12-0. 

“With this event, a lot of people would come to it just because it’s Terry Crews,” Gray said. “I think one of the most important things we can do for It’s On Us week is reach out to people that normally wouldn’t be attending events like this and educate them in some way, shape or form.”

The bill will be voted on by the general assembly during ASMSU's Thursday meeting. It's On Us week will take place April 1 to April 5 this year. 

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