Trustees hold town hall to hear from MSU community, hope to plan more
Michigan State Trustees Brianna Scott and Kelly Tebay were surprised to see fewer than 20 individuals attending their town hall meeting.
When it became clear that few community members would attend the Monday evening town hall held at the Kellogg Center, the audience was invited to move to the front of the conference room, all within speaking distance of the two trustees and Chair of the MSU Board of Trustees Dianne Byrum, who also accepted an invitation to attend.
The first question of the evening came from Scott, who asked the audience about the low turnout.
ASMSU College of Music representative Isaiah Hawkins said the board's recent performance might've calmed some in the community. Graham Pierce, assistant director of MSU Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting, said the event was not well publicized.
Though they were disappointed with the turnout, Tebay and Scott solicited advice from the audience on how to market their next meeting. Scott said the trustees received good feedback they hope to develop into steps toward implementing new policies, and to bring back to their colleagues.
"We realize now that there are communication channels that we didn't utilize," Scott said. "We're going to do better next time."
Scott and Tebay plan on holding town hall meetings at least quarterly, and are looking at setting dates further in advance to spur turnout, Tebay said.
There's clearly a lot more we can and will do, but I think this is a good first step, and hopefully people will understand that when Brianna and I campaign on this type of thing that we meant it, and that we were serious, and that we're going to follow through with those things," Tebay said.
Those who attended discussed several topics with the trustees.
Sociology professor Rubén Martinez told the trustees he felt MSU does not practice what it preaches on diversity and inclusion. Scott said Martinez's comments impacted her.
"It really kind of did something to me, where I want to fix this issue as soon as I possibly can," Scott said.
Byrum said MSU needs a strategic plan on diversity and said developing one is near the top of her priorities to discuss with the next MSU president.
Hawkins asked the trustees about a student resolution to make Election Day a university holiday to increase campus turnout. Byrum expressed interest in the idea, and Scott and Tebay asked Hawkins to send them the proposal.
"I'm a big proponent of students getting involved and being informed voters, so that really piqued my interest," Byrum said.
Some of the discussion centered on continued distrust in MSU administration and the university's culture. As the trustees host more events, become more visible across campus and continue to put more policies and procedures in place, Byrum said she thinks they'll slowly rebuild public trust in the university.
"It's a journey, rebuilding trust. You do one day at a time, one step at a time," Byrum said. "I do think we've made some significant steps forward in just the last 90 days or so."