Members of the James Madison Student Senate are planning to release a statement of condemnation Friday against the recent action taken by Michigan State Residential and Hospitality Services (RHS) to furlough over 700 student employees on short notice.
Social Relations and Policy Caucus Chair Madison Nacker and Sen. Jack Wheatley will be co-writers of the statement.
“What we’re trying to do is put together a statement of condemnation against the university for knowingly putting the livelihoods of these workers at risk during a pandemic,” Wheatley said. “This was definitely something so heinous, so egregious, that it could not be overlooked.”
They hope the statement will be a reflection of the frustrations students in James Madison College have shared with senators.
“I would just say this administration has been slightly careless in their care and also a perspective and their welfare toward students this semester, especially in this plight-filled time as it is now,” Senate President Jack Kennedy said.
The decision to write the statement started at the senate’s meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23, and Wheatley and Nacker reached out to student organizations this morning.
“The purpose of JMC senate is to really be the voice for students of James Madison College, and we really seek to represent the interests and the concerns of our constituents,” Nacker said.
Currently, 13 student groups have signed in support, including the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), Spartan Solidarity Network, Broad Student Senate and MSU Graduate Employees Union. More student groups are expected to join before the senate releases the statement Friday.
“It definitely feels a lot stronger of a message that we’re sending out when we have this much support,” Nacker said. “It means a lot that there are so many students out there helping other students.”
Although collecting signatures could be difficult virtually, members of the senate appreciate the organizations’ support so far.
“In a time in which we really can’t have that interpersonal community it means a lot,” Kennedy said. “And though everything is virtual right now, having one voice and standing for something that all RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) I believe are pretty much agreed upon is pretty significant.”
The Senate has released statements in past years regarding topics like asking board members to step down or responding to Larry Nassar’s case.
“(Our statements are) really to kind of bring advocacy to, especially, this negligent action by the college,” Kennedy said.
Members of the senate anticipate support from students, as the statement already has support from student organizations. They also hope to see administrative review and change after they release this statement.
“Hopefully they provide more aid for the students that were affected, is the ultimate goal,” Nacker said. “Hopefully this leads to some positive change in the future as well, handling these situations, especially this coming year with the pandemic. I mean, that’s a big reason I’m writing it as well just because this pandemic is already affecting so many students, and this is just making students a lot more vulnerable to that as well.”
However, Wheatley is less confident in MSU’s response. He said that student groups, like the Spartan Solidarity Network, will take more individual actions to help the workers.
“I think that the university, like most situations, will put out a fluffy post about listening and taking into consideration actions, maybe they’ll even radically go as far as to draft a committee and then shove it under the rug,” Wheatley said.
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