Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Michigan State facilities worker no longer employed after posting racist remarks on Facebook

July 17, 2020
<p> The Hannah Administration Building on Aug. 23, 2019, in East Lansing.  </p>

The Hannah Administration Building on Aug. 23, 2019, in East Lansing.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

A Michigan State University employee from Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, or IPF, is no longer working after members of the community shared a number of racist posts he made on Facebook.

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. issued a statement Tuesday, July 14, stating that Mark Geahan was disciplined Monday and will not be returning to the university.

“To say I was repulsed by the reprehensible racial epithet uttered by (an) MSU employee last month would be an understatement,” Stanley said in the statement. “Mr. Geahan’s hateful and deeply disturbing comments are in no way reflective (of) our Spartan values or our steadfast belief that Black Lives Matter.”

Geahan was under investigation last month by the department of human resources, the Office of the General Counsel, and the Office of Institutional Equity after the university was made aware of complaints over a June weekend. 

Complaints were made against him after a screenshot of one of his Facebook posts ended up receiving over 700 shares on Facebook.

Shortly after, the IPF worker was then suspended but the MSU community demanded Geahan be held accountable for racism and be dismissed. A petition was created via change.org for the same. Students took to social media to share their reactions as well. 

"I think the university should do better. We keep having these situations," prenursing sophomore Shanel Baxter said.

Baxter said the university should conduct mandatory training for diversity and inclusion for all students and faculty, as they do for SARV training, where the trainees would go through different scenarios and learn how to respond appropriately.

While political science senior Nia Gray is aware this isn’t the first incident in MSU, she is concerned for her safety on campus as well as the safety of other people of color in the community.

"There should be something more done because MSU they keep saying our they're here to protect all people of color around campus,” Gray said. “But what have you guys really done? We get a couple (of) emails from you and ... it just stops there."

In her reaction to the racist posts on social media, James Madison sophomore Annie Hamaty said it doesn't reflect MSU as a whole and just adds to people's preconceived notions without even knowing the students because of the incidents that have been coming up nationally.

"I think the way that they handled it was also not OK" Hamaty said. “Putting someone on suspension basically says it's OK. ... There (are) no real consequences.”

Hamaty said the reaction of MSU leadership was not satisfactory and that Geahan should have been fired immediately in her opinion.

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