On November 18, the Black Student Alliance met with various members of the Michigan State University administration offices of policy, academic orientation, student recruitment/representation and student affairs and services regarding the list of demands BSA presented to President Lou Anna K. Simon during their meeting a few weeks ago.
Although there wasn’t enough time to discuss all the demands, there was a definite breakthrough on what to do with the policies that were discussed.
“Our concerns are other groups concerns, too,” said Mario Lemons, president of BSA.
The majority of the hour-and-a-half discussion was on making anti-discrimination policy easier to understand and more readily available, what to do if you’ve been discriminated against, the training of students, staff and faculty on the anti-discrimination policy and punishment for those who do break the policy.
Administration seemed extremely receptive and even revealed a few projects they had been working on before the incident in Akers. Kelley Bishop, the assistant vice president of Student Affairs and Services, spoke on the Spartan Help Line, a phone application that will connect the user with the appropriate venue if something happens. Although the app is still in its early stages, the creators plan for the app to be of assistance in incidents involving sexual harassment, discrimination and crime.
One of the biggest topics of the meeting was training students, staff and faculty not only to be tolerant, but how to handle the situation if someone is discriminated against. The possibility of a training program for mentors and Office of Cultural and Academic Transition (OCAT) aides was discussed and may become a reality in the near future. BSA also pushed for faculty and staff to receive some sort of anti-discrimination training, and the administrators agreed. The possibility of an all-student training being added to the Academic Orientation Program (AOP) was also discussed.
The administration updated BSA on some recent policy changes, including the addition of institutional dismissal to the anti-discrimination policy, which BSA was more than pleased to hear.
“We want it to be like (the) people who think they’re going to hell if they plagiarize,” said Lemons.
Administration reminded BSA that at the end of the day, if people do not report their incidents, administration can do nothing to help them. All incidents must be reported so they can go through the student judicial process and possibly be investigated by the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. There are also a variety of venues available for lodging a complaint, which administration promised to make more visible to the student body.
Overall, the meeting seemed extremely productive. MSU administration and BSA will continue meeting to make this campus a more tolerant place.
By Devyne Lloyd