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Toilet Paper Nooses, Bias Incidents, Strike Diversity Crusade by MSU’s President and Student gov

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

Authors: Sergei Kelley and Craig Orji

Since toilet paper nooses and other alleged bias incidents in October 2019, MSU’s President and student government have sought to overhaul action on campus diversity.

MSU’s President and student government are pushing a diversity crusade, establishing diversity committees, new diversity administrators, plans for a new multicultural center, and mandated diversity training for all staff, faculty, and students.

Outlining priorities on the eve of Rev. MLK Day, MSU’s President Stanley writes, “While much has changed over the years, far too much has not. The gap between the ideals courageously advocated by Dr. King and their fulfillment today ­— including on this campus — remains disappointingly wide.”

The email comes months after alleged incidents and the President lists five changes to address this “gap between ideals.” First is the creation of a campus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee, which was initially announced on December 6, 2019.

The committee will “pinpoint existing gaps” and will examine, among other areas, the composition and success of our faculty, staff and student body...These areas will be evaluated broadly with a focus on social identities, including age, color, disability status, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race.”

He further announces his action to “longstanding calls” for a multicultural center feasibility study, something pushed by the student government and others. The Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) passed an exploratory bill last semester. 

President Stanley further hopes to establish a university Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer to help “transform[s] the university's culture,” and will look at “faculty and staff recruitment, retention and advancement.”

Pushing for mandated diversity training for all staff, faculty, and students, ASMSU’s Bill 56-31 stated recent “morally and educationally dam*ing” incidents, and a need for staff and faculty to “sensitively cater to minority students.” At a recent meeting, covered by The Morning Watch, student senators cited rural, “middle of nowhere,” communities and microaggressions to support the bill. 

Both MSU’s President and ASMSU on this diversity crusade have pointed to alleged bias events in early October to late November 2019. 

One of the earliest was toilet paper nooses found hanging on a student’s dorm door. In an email, MSU claims the incident in the hall against African American residents was a Halloween prank. Several students and student groups insisted it was not just a prank and its effects were still very real.

Another alleged incident was against the LGBT+ community. Apparent “vandalism of rainbow stickers in Holmes Hall,” stated an email from the Lyman Briggs Committee for Inclusivity. Additionally, they said, “We vehemently reject any efforts to oppress, belittle, intimidate, or harass members of our community.”

The stickers are found on several doors of staff and faculty.

A story covered by The Morning Watch, highlighted a very misled survey by an MSU Communications professor where prompts described blacks as monkeys, cite “annoying woke ret**d” Asians as having “a decreased field of vision,” and state Muslims as, “smelly sand n*****s.”

The survey attempted to measure “aggressiveness, offensiveness, and emotionality,” and researchers alleged the messages were taken from social media sites.

The Communications College soon apologized and responded in an email saying the survey “meant to examine reactions to hate speech,” and they are, “troubled about the content of the survey and its effect on participants.”

Another incident was recorded at the MSU Hillel where vandals destroyed a Sukkah, which had been built for the week-long Jewish festival. 

After not being able to substantiate claims of ICE on campus, students and student groups attacked the upcoming appearance of non-ICE Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents who were invited to a class. 

MSU’s President Stanley sent a campus- wide email on October 22, 2019, directly associating those CBP agents with alleged hate and bias events on campus, citing that those events have “disrupted a sense of safety.”

It was after these events and further calls from students were demands lists were made. One by the Black Student Alliance, who demands validation of the experiences of targeted communities even in the case where it may be perceived as not a bias incident.

They also demand diversity training and an increase in “minority representation,” within the university’s Residence Education and Housing Services. They operate campus dormitories. 

Another set of demands, a “10 Point Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” was released by campus racial and identity groups, who collectively demanded a sanctuary campus, money, and a required prerequisite course on “race, ethnicity, racism, and gender” by Fall 2020.

From initial bias and alleged bias incidents came university emails, student group demands, and forums. Then came demands and direct petitioning of the student government and MSU’s President who have turned to a diversity crusade pushing for significant changes on campus. 

These changes hope to include establishing diversity committees, new diversity administrators, a new multicultural center, and mandated diversity training for all staff, faculty, and students.

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