Message from the Vice President
Regarding the closing of the MSU Union on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
When I arrived at the Union last Thursday night, I had the privilege of meeting with approximately 20 students representing the CORES and COPS groups. Immediately the question posed by the group was, “What happened here tonight?” There was confusion and discouragement regarding the closing of the Union with more than 100 students left outside following the rally and march.
Here is what I have determined from being present Thursday night and through discussions since then:
- The rally at the Rock was organized and peaceful, with close to 2,000 participants.
- Following the rally, there was a spontaneous decision to march to the Capitol, the Administration Building and the Union.
- At some point the word was “march” to the Union to either occupy the building or for a sit-in. This set off the chain of events that led to the confusion.
- The MSU Police Chief invoked University Ordinance 5.02 which reads:
- 5.00 DUTIES OF POLICE OFFICERS
- 5.02 Police Chief and Director of Public Safety restricting access to property
The Police Chief and Director of Public Safety, and his or her subordinates, are authorized to temporarily restrict access to and use of University property, or portions of such property, as is deemed necessary or desirable for the convenient and efficient conduct of University affairs or activities, and any such restrictions shall be made known by use of signs, barricades, announcements, postings or other means deemed appropriate under the circumstances.
- There were a few hundred people already in the Union participating in a number of scheduled events. Some events concluded, some were ended, and others were canceled once marchers entered the building. Clearly the Union could not accommodate the thousands known to have participated in the rally and believed to be a part of the march, so precautions were taken for safety.
- MSU Union staff made accommodations in the Ballroom for discussion and dialogue. Approximately 100 people were in the Ballroom, leaving at that time 100-200 people outside being told, by police officers at the doors, that the building was closed.
I am sorry these decisions and events resulted in frustration and anger for students facing locked doors and messages that the building was closed. I understand the impact being that of confusion, discouragement and a sense of rejection. I know it may be difficult, under the circumstances, to understand the decisions were made in the interest of safety when a significant part of the purpose of the event was to express concerns about safety. Earlier and more communication from university staff, particularly for those who were outside the Union, may have helped the situation, and I am open to discussions on ways we could have made this less frustrating.
As we move forward through a period that will necessitate each of us finding a place of grace from which we can act civilly and respectfully, I commit to being responsive to your questions. I may not always have a response you will like, but I will be as open as possible in responding. I also commit to maintaining spaces for dialogue and engagement. If you would like to join me for a “tea time” to discuss this or other issues, please contact my office to schedule a time that will work.
I trust we can work together, and be an example for others, in the spirit of Spartans supporting Spartans.
Denise B. Maybank, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Services