The Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, president Jo Kovach demanded that the board better include students in its meetings and affairs during the Oct. 28 board meeting.
“Students have just seen major changes happen before their eyes with no answer,” Kovach said. “We’ve asked three times now for open president and interim president searches, of which we have now had three searches without the student voice present and that has led to the situation we’re in now.”
Previous presidential search committees have actually included both undergraduate and graduate student representatives with full voting rights, board chair Dianne Byrum said.
“The trustees and the search committee participated in over 30 campus-wide listening sessions, so we took a lot of input that was all on a website that was publicly available,” Byrum said.
The board plans to execute a similar structure for the current presidential search. The future structure of the presidential search committee will be decided next year with a new configuration of trustees.
Byrum added she will not be running for re-election as chair of the board.
Kovach said the current structure is not enough. They said the board’s lack of response to student demands for the reinstatement of the swim and dive team and the release of documents related to the Nassar sexual assault cases has caused an overall lack of trust in the board.
“I chose this campus with a promise of progress and change that I, as a survivor myself, saw as a breath of fresh air that had many opportunities ... today you once again gave no answers ... not only has there not been action to backup statements, there hasn’t even been a statement,” Kovach said.
While the board has asserted that protecting students is a priority, Kovach said that its reassurance has not been followed by action.
“ASMSU has asked repeatedly for the OIE office and Title IX office to be fixed,” Kovach said. “So I don’t like that I’m hearing that you’re looking to protect students when you haven’t spoken to us ... if you really want to know how to protect students, ask us. Ask me, someone who has gone through OIE, someone who became a survivor for yet another time on this campus. Speak to the people who are actually at risk. You don’t order an external investigation and go silent right after.”
A list of specific demands for the board was developed by ASMSU in collaboration with the student body. The following demands were included:
A minimum of five student representatives to serve on the interim and permanent presidential search committees and that it is an open search.
Both interim and permanent presidential positions have a deep knowledge of MSU and the university’s initiatives.
That the board hires a communication coordinator to ensure the MSU community is up-to-date on administrative affairs.
The addition of a Board of Trustees student liaison from the Council of Racial and Ethnic Students, or CORES, and the Council of Progressive Students, or COPS.
That the interim and permanent presidential candidate finalists be considered by the MSU community in every way possible.
“The first step to unifying yourself with the rest of campus is listening to that community in who we’ve asked to be our interim president to lead us in what can be a very long, transformative era,” Kovach said.
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