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MSU faculty, staff and students call for change in response to Larry Nassar scandal

Feb 14, 2018

The Board of Trustees at Michigan State University knows exactly where they stand with the Faculty Senate.

By a vote of 61-4 yesterday, the Faculty Senate approved a vote of no-confidence in the Board.

Andaluna Borcila is an associate professor in the James Madison College at Michigan State University.

She was one of the first faculty members to publicly criticize the MSU administration for the way it handled the Larry Nassar scandal, and she was part of the overwhelming vote of no-confidence in the university's board of trustees.

Borcila says she voted for no-confidence because she's lost faith in the Board of Trustees.

“They were given so many chances. We counted on them … and they betrayed us. I think that we as a faculty needed to take a strong stance.”

And although the faculty vote doesn’t mean board members will be forced to step down, Borcila still hopes they will.

But, she says, that isn’t all that needs to be done.

“Perhaps, as they resign, we can work on policies, we can work on ways on ensuring that there is some kind of a check on what a board can do. And that there is some involvement in the process for electing presidents; that students and faculty and staff have a voice, not just lip-service, in this process.”

Melissa Parson is the operations and safety coordinator with the College of Natural Science. She’s been on staff for 29 years, and is pleased with the vote of no-confidence.

But she adds that staff members have also never had a seat at the table.

“The staff, from what my perspective is from talking with some co-workers, is seldom heard or seldom listened to because we’re unions.”

Parson says that has led to a lack of unity across the university, leaving out people ranging from grounds workers to food service workers to even sheep herders.

“We all have a voice and I think we’d all just like to be heard. And we’d also like everyone to know that we care, as well, about these survivors and how the university can move forward in this darkened day.”

Making change: Reclaim MSU

Borcila and Parson are also members of Reclaim MSU, a grassroots group of students, faculty, and staff that is advocating for more transparency and accountability on campus.

“I really see it as being a collective initiative,” explains Borcila. “It is not a top-down structure…. We can think creatively, we can talk about what’s going on, we can pull our energy together. And that is exciting to me.”

The group was co-founded by second-year MSU student Natalie Rogers, who was inspired by the MSU community.

“I saw so much going on in response to everything that was happening. Just so many different groups doing different things, putting out demands, organizing rallies, teach-ins. And I just thought, ‘hey, it would be a lot better if we were all doing this together.’ Not stopping all the things that we’re doing, but just coming together so that we’re supporting each other in our vision and in our efforts.”

Rogers says the group is in its early stages. They’re working to finalize a mission statement, create a website, and the like.

Ultimately, the goal of Reclaim MSU is to produce real change.

“I think we just focus on ... getting our voice heard," Rogers says. "You know, it’s one thing to just sit down with us and talk with us, but it’s another thing to take what we say and do something with it. And I think we’re just going to focus on making sure they do something.”