MSU’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI, training is an online program that educates students on proper ways to communicate and interact with people of different cultures, sexual orientations, disabilities and other marginalized groups.
'You can't erase us': Students stand in support of DEI training
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Jabbar Bennett said in a June 11 email to MSU students that the university will continue the training despite disagreement.
MSU administration made no other statements or responses about The Rock on Farm Lane.
Asian Pacific American Student Organization, or APASO, 2020-21 Event Coordinator Vivian Nguyen said she wants to see MSU take a more active approach in helping students with this matter.
Since May, the phrase has been repainted several times over other paintings on the MSU monument causing over 70 people to gather June 23 at the rock to protest and say that they “will not be erased."
This was organized by MSU’s Black Student Alliance, the Council of Radical & Ethnic Students, or CORES, and the Council of Progressive Students, or COPS.
The CORES & COPS Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, representative for the Alliance of Queer and Allied Students Cameron Lochrie called the phrase “hate speech” at the protest.
“It actively undermines years of effort that CORES & COPS groups have put in to get that training in place," Lochrie said. "This phrase erases marginalized people and our experiences and that is a form of violence.”
After speeches from the various students at the rock, the group marched to the Hannah Administration Building while chanting “you can’t erase us."
On their way to the Hannah Administration Building, an MSU police officer blocked traffic with his vehicle to help the group cross Farm Lane.
When they arrived, several students shared testimonies of discrimination they experienced on campus, why they support DEI training and called the MSU community to action.
ASMSU President Georgia Frost said she supports the training because there is no guarantee that all members of the MSU community are coming from backgrounds where anti-racist and anti-discriminatory education has been taught.
“I still learn several lessons from this training that I otherwise would not have figured out before potentially doing or saying something harmful,” Frost said.
Frost also said the phrase was painted and repainted over messages supporting sexual assault survivors and LGBTQ+ pride month.
APASO & LGBTQ+ community member Lexie Salazar said seeing the phrase was hurtful and disheartening.
“I see so much of them (MSU) making statements of ‘we stand with you, we’re here for you, we’re promoting diversity and inclusion’ but we never see any action,” Salazar said.