Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Editorial: MSU's allyship isn't enough — it's performative

<p>The Rock also contained a message directly pointed at Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley. Protectors of The Rock demanded alterations to the university&#x27;s harassment policies and a stronger effort to prevent hate speech on the campus monument. </p>

The Rock also contained a message directly pointed at Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley. Protectors of The Rock demanded alterations to the university's harassment policies and a stronger effort to prevent hate speech on the campus monument.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

The second the calendar flipped to June, we saw companies and organizations change their logos to bright colorful icons, repping the colors of the rainbow and more. Some even incorporated the trans flag to prove their allyship, including Michigan State University. 

At least, they did. 

The rainbow logo came down after someone defaced the Rock on Farm Lane’s rainbow flag with “Boycott your DEI training,” a mandatory training the university began requiring during the previous school year. 

Events like these are why we need our diversity, equity and inclusion training — because many students at the university remain ignorant and ill-informed. 

And if they’re not ignorant and ill-informed, they’re just hateful. 

Students have been calling for President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. and the university to say something about these incidents, to comment on the hate that has been displayed on the Rock. Instead, we got a Tuesday night email saying fully vaccinated people can return to campus without masks, without so much as a mention about the messages. 

There were four student groups instrumental in keeping people updated about the Rock and in calling upon Stanley and the university to say something: the Black Student Alliance, or BSA, Alliance MSU, TransAction MSU and The Associated Students of Michigan State University.

People stayed overnight to make sure the Rock wasn’t defaced any other times, but they shouldn’t have had to. 

The university should not push this under the rug. They need to address the issue at hand. 

Students want this to be talked about. Stanley’s Instagram account has been tagged in the comments under two of BSA’s posts over 150 times combined. Students are tagging Stanley in Instagram stories, wanting some sort of statement or acknowledgment. 

It’s not that Stanley hasn’t been active on social media. On June 8, he posted on his personal Instagram account about MSU accepting the Vaccine Champion Challenge. On June 9, he acknowledged the anniversary of the unveiling of the Spartan Statue.

Students and supporters commented multiple times under both these posts, asking for Stanley to acknowledge the situation at the Rock on Farm Lane.

Instead, the university removed their one gesture at allyship from their social media profile pictures. 

In 2021, the university created the Task Force on Racial Equity to address the university’s shortcomings in dealing with issues of discrimination on campus and create a more inclusive campus environment. 

The Task Force was created to prove that the university was taking steps towards eliminating discrimination on our campus, so why is this act of discrimination being ignored?

By failing to condemn the acts of hatred against MSU students, MSU made one thing clear: the university does not support its LGBTQ+ community. 

The Rock on Farm Lane is meant to be a place where people can share their interests and life stories with people, advertise their clubs, take a stand for something. But it being defaced with something hateful is not a one time occurrence. 

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Less than a year ago, a fraternity suspended a member for defacing the rock that had “BLM” written on it, covering it with “Trump 2020,” “BLM sucks” and breaking off a piece. 

The Rock is a place for expression, but not hate speech. 

Stanley, it’s hard to believe you’re a supporter of our LBGTQ+ students when your response to the incident is silence. By being complicit, you let hate have a home here. 

We stand with the LGBTQ+ community. We join our student peers in calling for a response from the university against the blatant homophobia displayed at the Rock.

Silence is complicity, Stanley. Choose your side.

The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Karly Graham, Managing Editor Kaishi Chhabra, Copy Chief SaMya Overall, Audience Engagement Editor Griffin Wiles, Multimedia Editor Lauren Snyder, Diversity and Inclusion Rep. Ashley Zhou and Staff Rep. Jared Ramsey. 

This article was updated at 1:25 p.m. to clarify that the removal of the Pride logo from the Spartan head was not President Samuel L. Stanley's decision. A statement from Dan Olsen in response to the removal of the Pride logo can be read below:

"We were excited to recognize Pride Month on our social platforms by changing our profile image for one week to acknowledge the struggles and celebrate the triumphs of the LGBTQA+ community. Our commitment to inclusion goes beyond any profile image or monthlong celebration — it is engrained in our mission and values and who we are as Spartans.

We value the many contributions LGBTQA+ people have made on our campus and throughout the world today and every day."

Friday evening Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Michigan State University Jabbar R. Bennett released an email statement regarding the Rock being defaced. More information can be found here.

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