MSU community responds to racial discrimination incidents at community forum
In response to the recent incidents regarding racial discrimination on MSU's campus, the Black Students’ Alliance, or BSA, and the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, teamed up to host a public forum Tuesday.
The forum gave many students the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas for change in front of crowds of people packed into one room.
Students expressed their concerns and need for more training in diversity, such as those for sexual assault.
"This needs to be taken just as serious as sexual assault on campus," attendee Shenia Cocks said. "We do not have the same resources as they do to help us get through these difficult situations."
Students said they believe the university should not wait until something major happens in order to make a change, and proposed there be mandatory training similar to MSU's Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence (SARV) Prevention Program, which the university requires incoming students to attend.
While MSU does have Diversity and Inclusion workshops online, they are not in-person.
Students also discussed their experiences as people of color on MSU's campus.
Horticulture sophomore Clarice Hollenquest described an incident that occurred to her at the end of last week. She said after falling asleep in the common area after getting together to play Switch with a group of friends, a white woman came up to them and asked them why they were there.
She said her boyfriend had to wake her so they could move, and there was a group of white students making noise and drinking down the hall and the woman showed no concern for them. Hollenquest said she felt as though students cannot speak up about these situations to their resident advisers because they will most likely be brushed off and ignored.
Other students, such as interdisciplinary studies in social science freshman Antanae Love-Humble recounted past accounts, such as when she was threatened to be killed in middle school but the word never got out.
She said there's a need to teach white students how to hold their own community accountable.
Alpha Phi Alpha president Andrei Nichols said there is a need for more black administrators in order for black students to feel acknowledged, listened to and cared about.
History junior Wisdom Henry, a resident of Bryan Hall, where an apparent noose made of toilet paper was hung on the door of two African American residents on Friday, said she does not feel safe on MSU's campus, or in the city of East Lansing or even when she studies abroad.
She said she told her professor about how she and three other black students were told the "N-word" on her study abroad trip and nobody did anything about it. She said the student who used the term sent an apology but denied ever saying it.
Another main discussion point from the forum was about the Sona survey, which included prompts containing racist, transphobic, xenophobic and homophobic slurs, and many wondered how it was allowed to reach students at all.
"One of the premises of (MSU's Institutional Review Board, or IRB,) is to ensure the research upholds — the Do No Harm — respect and protection of persons, beneficence and justice," Jordan said in a statement to The State News. "I think there should have been flags for this study. It appears the survey received expedited approval through a loop hole of publicly available and public forum context however it really needed a FULL IRB approval, which would have included other voices for the ethical considerations."
She said she's concerned that the survey was approved.
"While this should've been flagged as inappropriate by the internal barometer of the PI before it even got to IRB, it was not. Then MSU IRB found that the instrument used despite all the loaded language and racial epithets met the criteria for approval. However, this should NEVER have been allowed at this university, it was inappropriate, insensitive, distasteful, harmful and traumatizing," Jordan said.
One of the solutions for this incident discussed at the forum was implementing diverse research or scientific committees to look over these surveys.
In the process a study will be presented looked at from scientific value and appropriateness to the community before ever going to IRB.
In addition, BSA released a list of demands from MSU's Residence Education and Housing Services:
"1. We demand transparency to the entire student body, and not just students in the residence halls."
"2. We demand consequences to the students who create a negative environments inside of residence halls."
"3. We demand Validation of the experiences of targeted communities even in the case where it may be perceived as not a bias incident by your standards."
"4. We demand action plan and training in place so that Residence Hall staff know how to respond to occurrence."
"5. We demand The No Hate Crimes Statement "Hate Has No Home Here" should be circulated and sent to students frequently and the university should take a clear stance on hate crime and bias instances."
"6. We demand an official policy/statement on racial discrimination/intimidation, and that it be fully enforced."
"7. We demand that the that each Hall Government plans and executes at least 2 diversity centered programs per year; this can be in collaboration with Neighborhood Black Caucuses."
"8. Increase of minority representation within leadership of REHS."