Fall 2019: A semester in review
The fall 2019 semester brought beginnings and endings. For some, this semester marks the beginning of their collegiate career and for others, it’s their last semester before graduation.
Keeping up with what’s going on can be difficult, so here’s a recap of the important things you might’ve missed this semester at Michigan State.
Samuel L. Stanley begins his tenure as president of MSU
Samuel L. Stanley Jr. became president of the university Aug. 1. He was unanimously approved by the MSU Board of Trustees to serve as the next president at a board meeting May 28. Prior to taking over at MSU, Stanley was the president of Stony Brook University.
The search for a new president began after Lou Anna K. Simon’s resignation after the fallout regarding the university’s handling of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. Her resignation came in January 2018, which began a string of temporary presidents at MSU.
Simon faces a trial in Eaton County centered around accusations that she lied to police about her knowledge of Larry Nassar’s abuse.
Former Michigan Gov. John Engler served as interim president of MSU until his resignation in January 2019. Throughout his tenure, Engler received criticism for his treatment of survivors of sexual assault, and even faced being potentially terminated from the position.
Satish Udpa took over as interim president after being unanimously approved by the board to serve as interim president while the search for a permanent replacement to fill the role was going on. He was the last interim president before Stanley was selected to fill the role.
Flat Rate Tuition is officially implemented
MSU began a new flat rate tuition model where all students taking 12 to 18 credits are charged at the same rate.
The board approved the model when Lou Anna K. Simon was president, but hadn’t switched to it. Engler liked the system, so he switched MSU over to the block tuition model under his tenure.
Students taking between 12 and 18 credits are charged the price of 15 credits. This is beneficial to students taking 15 and more credits, but ends up costing students taking between 12 and 14 credits more money than before.
MSU faced criticism from multiple student groups for making the change. For example, the Black Student Alliance of MSU, or BSA, was against the change. Members of BSA have called to charge for 12 credits instead of 15 so more students can afford it.
Resignations, changes in the administration
Sept. 5, June Youatt resigned from her position as provost after a report following an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Youatt was one of the people under investigation.
The report stated that MSU failed to comply with Title IX regulations, in addition to charging a $4.5 million fine for failing to comply with the Clery Act Compliance Division.
At a press conference following the Board of Trustees meeting the next day, Stanley said Youatt tendered her resignation after the two had a discussion. He also said he did not ask her to resign and that she did so by her own volition.
Sept. 30, Udpa resigned from his position as executive vice president at MSU, a position he had held since 2013 until being unanimously chosen to fill the interim president role. Udpa now works in research labs at the College of Engineering.
In late October, Nancy Schlichting resigned from the Board of Trustees, citing the failure of the university to move forward with an independent investigation into MSU’s handling of reports against Nassar.
Former Governor Rick Snyder appointed Schlichting in December 2018 to join the board following George Perles’ health-related resignation.
In Schlichting’s letter of resignation, she mentioned she couldn’t remain on the board when not all board members supported an independent investigation.
Whitmer appointed legal ethics scholar Renee Knake on Dec. 4 to fulfill the position on the board, which expires Jan. 1, 2023.
Bomb threat reported at Hannah Administration Building
Following the Sept. 6 Board of Trustees meeting, the Hannah Administration Building was evacuated after the MSU Police Department, or MSUPD, received a bomb threat.
MSUPD issued alerts to be sent out throughout campus, but many students did not receive any notifications.
After a search of the building was conducted, an alert was issued at 12:37 p.m. stating that the building was open for regular operations, and that they took the threats seriously.
Dantonio earns 110th win, breaks all-time win record
After a tough loss to Arizona State University on Sept. 14, Dantonio and the football team made their way to Evanston, Illinois the following weekend to defeat Northwestern University 31-10, officially making him the winningest coach in the university’s history.
In his 13 years as coach, Dantonio’s record at MSU is currently at 113 wins and 57 losses.
Several racist acts occur on campus
In October, two students in Bryan Hall reported having a toilet paper noose hung outside their door, which was initially described as a “Halloween prank.”
Students were notified by the Resident Education and Housing Services, or REHS, when they sent out a mass email to students.
Just a few days later, a Sona survey sent out through the College of Communication Arts and Sciences included racist, homophobic, transphobic and xenophobic slurs.
After both events, various discussions were hosted by BSA, the Associated Students of Michigan State University and the College of the Communication Arts and Sciences.
During a community forum, BSA developed a list of demands for Stanley and the administration, three of which Stanley agreed to.
The various forums provided students with the opportunity to speak directly to MSU staff about their concerns on what was happening and how MSU responses might have been counterproductive.
East Lansing elects new councilmembers
On Nov. 5, East Lansing residents took to the polls for the East Lansing City Council election. The low turnouts at the various precincts made for a close race: one that resulted in Mark Meadows holding onto his seat by two votes, which pushed incumbent Erik Altmann out of his position.
Ultimately, the three open City Council seats went to Jessy Gregg with 2,944 votes (25.08%), Lisa Babcock with 2,871 votes (24.45%) and Mark Meadows with 1,951 votes (16.62%).
Following the election, Ruth Beier, who has served on the council since 2013, was unanimously elected mayor. Aaron Stephens was unanimously elected mayor pro tem by the council.
Women's cross country becomes Big Ten champions
For the first time since 2014, the women’s cross country team earned the title of Big Ten Champions, ending the University of Michigan’s reign.
This title is the team’s seventh Big Ten Championship, and the fifth of the decade.
Five MSU runners ended the championship in the top 18, with India Johnson, Lynsie Gram and Jenna Magness ending the race in positions 14-16.
Know More @ MSU Campus Climate Survey results are released
On Nov. 21, a 75-page report outlining the findings in the Know More @ MSU Campus Climate survey conducted last spring was released. The report outlined student, faculty and staff experiences with sexual misconduct and revealed the differences in risk between different groups of people based on race, gender and sexuality.
It also detailed student, faculty and staff perceptions of MSU’s campus culture.
There were more than 15,000 responses analyzed by an independent research organization, RTI International.
MSU intends to use the data to track the progress regarding the climate around sexual misconduct, and it will be data driven, Stanley said.