"U Belong" – Building a Stronger MSU Community

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are not only words spoken, but values that are important to the MSU community. However, recent incidents on our campus have caused members of our community to feel hurt, angered and unwelcome. This most assuredly is not the way we want you to feel, nor the values that we hold.

As many of you know from seeing news reports and social media posts, the Wharton Center had a display of African American figures hanging from trees in the gift shop. The display has resulted in feelings of pain, anger, and intimidation among members within our community. (Read message from MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.

No matter the intent when an incident like this happens, we know that we, as individuals, must do better to recognize how our words and actions impact and affect others. There are consequences for what we say and do.

Since then, an event hosted by the Associated Students of MSU (ASMSU) to allow students the opportunity to ask questions of President Stanley was impacted by racist comments. Questions for President Stanley were submitted anonymously online. Under that anonymity, some people chose to instead submit these comments, leaving students upset and anxious. 

Another incident was the spraying of a swastika in the snow in front of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house. After finding a member was responsible, the fraternity suspended that person and is cooperating with the police investigation. This incident caused members of our community to feel hurt and vulnerable.

There also has been misinformation circulated about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). While there are no confirmed cases in Michigan or suspected cases at MSU as of today, this outbreak has led to actions fueled by xenophobia and a lack of knowledge, resulting in anxiety among members of the MSU community who feel stigmatized and ostracized. MSU’s Asian Pacific American Student Organization (APASO) held a town hall to address COVID-19.

At the town hall, a statement was read from President Stanley, who could not attend. In addition, Dr. David Weismantel, a university physician, spoke about COVID-19. (Watch video from townhall). More information can be found at msu.edu/coronavirus and at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s dedicated page.

At a time when members of our community are feeling pain, anger, intimidation, hurt, vulnerable, anxious, stigmatized and ostracized, we must join together to not only support each other, but to exemplify a caring and inclusive community. This is the time to ensure all voices are heard. To this end, following spring break, leaders from Student Affairs and Services will be available in multiple locations around campus to listen to student concerns and recommendations for making positive changes. These pop-up sessions will be under the banner “U Belong.” Recommendations and actions will be captured on this website. Check social media for dates, times and locations for the “U Belong” sessions.

I hope we will use this as an opportunity to build a stronger MSU community that embraces our diversity and has a foundation of respect for all. 

Thank you.


Denise B. Maybank, Ph.D.
Vice President and Associate Provost 
    for Student Affairs and Services

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