Spartans Fight for Flint
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
This Dr. Seuss quote hangs just above the desk of Associated Students of Michigan State (ASMSU) President, Domonique Clemons, on the third floor of the Student Services building. Since tragedy struck the southeast side of Michigan this past year, Clemons and other Spartans have chosen to take a lead in making things better.
When asked about Michigan State’s response to the revelation that public Flint water has been contaminated with high levels of lead since June 2014, Clemons said: “This is a moment when I feel particularly proud of my university.” According to Clemons, both students and administration alike have jumped into action by organizing water donations and suggesting research initiatives across campus.
For Clemons, the Flint water crisis hits particularly close to home. He is a Flint native and said that the many connections Michigan State has with the city are a primary reason why backing Flint is a top priority.
“As we continue to engage with the situation, we’re trying to find out what our students and faculty from the Flint community believe needs to be done to fix this problem,” explained Clemons. “I think we’re doing a great job providing support so far.”
Assistant director Krysta Coleman and graduate assistant Taylor Cramton were among the administration members who shuffled to put together a water bottle drive in the Student Life office. Coleman and Cramton were pleased to facilitate the donation of over 700 bottles of water to families who may not have access to clean water at home.
The girls who hail from Lapeer, just twenty minutes east of Flint, said they felt an immediate call to provide help when news of the Flint water crisis became widespread.
“I think people look at Michigan State and say ‘that’s an institution that’s leading the way,’” Coleman said. “We have a commitment to the public that goes all the way back to when we were founded as a land grant institution – We were here to make Michigan a better place and I think that still rings true.”
Though providing families in Flint with clean water is critical, there is still the issue of understanding the long-term repercussions of the contamination, and uncovering a way to fix the problem with Flint’s water pipes. At the beginning of January, it was announced that Michigan State University College of Human Medicine would be teaming up with Hurley Medical Center to launch an initiative to moderate the effects of lead poisoning in Flint’s children – A small step closer to solving those problems.
According to the website for MSU Human Medicine, “the intent [of this initiative] is to address the Flint population-wide lead exposure from multiple fronts and provide the tools and resources for the assessment, continued research and monitoring, and interventions necessary for improving children’s health and development.”