Friday, September 29, 2023

Updates to student life follow Board of Trustees meeting

September 9, 2022
<p>Members of the MSU Club Swimming and Diving team attend the Board of Trustees meeting to comment on the decision to cut the university Swim and Dive team. The Board of Trustees met at the Hannah Administration building on Sep. 9, 2022.</p>

Members of the MSU Club Swimming and Diving team attend the Board of Trustees meeting to comment on the decision to cut the university Swim and Dive team. The Board of Trustees met at the Hannah Administration building on Sep. 9, 2022.

Photo by Jack Patton | The State News

The Board of Trustees met on Friday, Sept 9 in the Hannah Administration building. Student leaders and liaisons delivered updates to life on campus and called for more inclusivity and transparency.

Messages from student liaisons

ASMSU President Jo Kovach promised to make the voices of minoritized students heard at the meeting.

Kovach said they were the subject of a hateful attack a month ago. Their personal office door was vandalized. This followed an article about Kovach becoming the first openly nonbinary student body president at Michigan State. 

“I had a sticker my freshman year that said, ‘Hate has no home here at MSU,'” Kovach said. “You all, myself and every minoritized student knows that this is far from the truth. Hate is alive and well at Michigan State, and there have been several bias incidents since I personally stepped foot on this campus.”

Kovach said they will spend this year working with the Board of Trustees to bring more minoritized students, especially from MSU’s most diverse class of 9,800 students, to the table to make campus safer.

Student liaison Stevie Quijas reported that as of Sept. 8, MSU has upwards of 70,000 students utilizing over $2.19 million in financial aid for the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters.

He said the Spartan Advantage, a program within the Office of Financial Aid designed specifically for the exceptionally needy and low income-students, has forced students into vulnerable positions.

“I have been in discussion with Provost Woodruff and financial aid administrators to make sure that the university recognizes the extent of the issue in order to properly address student concern, find solutions and minimize such instances from occurring in the future,” Quijas said.

Quijas said he looks forward to working with student groups on campus to improve other aspects of campus culture, such as indigenous and minoritized student relations.

Residence Halls Association Interim President Belle Letcher said hall government recruitment is going very well.

“We may very well have an active hall government in every single hall, which I am very excited for,” Letcher said.

With a record-breaking incoming class of freshmen and transitional housing, Letcher said it is a particularly difficult year to be a resident assistant.

“RHA is working very hard to recognize that RAs are constituents, too. We care about them just as much as RAs care about people on their floor,” Letcher said. “We are currently working with both RAs and ICAs to give them seats in RHA so they can give their valuable input.”

Student leaders on fall welcome

Student leaders from various campus organizations discussed the launch of the academic year. 

Broadcast journalism junior Delaney Rogers is the station manager of the WDBM-FM, Impact 88.9FM Campus Radio Station. She spoke about the work that Impact has done, as well as their success with new members. 

“As a station, we do a lot of event DJing... like welcome events or Sparticipation,” Rogers said. “Anyone can join this team, regardless of your major or experience... about 300 volunteers have signed up since then.”

Rogers said Impact has been awarded 'Best College Radio Station' 18 out of the last 22 years by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. Its airways reach 30 miles in each direction and can be streamed online.

Elementary education junior George Ramirez Madrigal found similar success during fall welcome with Culturas de las Razas Unidas, one of the largest Latinx organizations on campus. Ramirez is the president of the organization.

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“We are pleased to announce that we have reached over 150 students thus far, and I’m proud of that accomplishment,” Ramirez said. “We are catering to focus more on outreach, especially with one of the largest Latinx class incoming.”

Additionally, the Board of Trustees’ decision in December 2021 to plan new recreation turf fields has finally come to fruition; these fields are open and have officially been renamed “Spartan Greens.”

Patrick Marchal, mechanical engineering major and treasurer of the men’s club soccer team, expressed his excitement over this development.

“The team is really excited to use these fields, we started practice last week, and we absolutely love it,” Marchal said. “We’re really excited to have a home field because what we used to have to do is travel to neighboring high schools. We’d have to rent fields for about $400 a game. Six home games, that’s 2,400 dollars that we’re saving this year.”

MSU Swim and Dive

Following the district court judge’s ruling that MSU was not compliant with Title IX when cutting the women’s varsity swim and dive program, student-athletes, parents and administrators have been outspoken about the program's reinstatement.

Senior Sheridan Phalen, a former swim and dive member, criticized the university’s stagnancy. 

“I was sold on the idea that no matter the problem, Michigan State students and administration would work together to find a solution. But for the past two years, I have yet to see that attitude from this court,” Phalen said. “I’m tired of coming to these board meetings. I’m tired of hearing how much our commitment and admiration (mean) to you. I didn’t come here to be an admiration. I came to be a swimmer.”

Rachel Holt, a former MSU varsity swimmer from 1990-1994, said “(The university’s decision) left a void of opportunity in an incredibly large, very talented pool of young athletes."

Senior Peter Corsetti echoed the words of Phalen and Holt when he stood in front of the board.

“For each and every one of our efforts, messages were ignored, doors were shut, or inexplicable opposition was given directly from those we are supposed to call Spartans,” Corsetti said.

Several of the trustees on the board expressed support for the swim and dive team, including trustees Renee Knake Jefferson and Kelly Tebay.

Knake Jefferson apologized for the loss of the swim and dive program, as well as for what the students had to endure. She said she hopes to continue to discuss the possibility of bringing the program back.

“I regret my vote in the decision to remove MSU’s swim and dive team, both men and women, from Michigan State’s athletic program,” Tebay said. “I would say if the vote happened today, I would absolutely vote to reinstate it.”


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