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Board of Trustees Candidates on Gender, Sexuality and Inclusion

As a resource and catalyst on gender in a global perspective, MSU GenCen felt it was our responsibility to contact the Board of Trustees candidates for the 2018 election and pose three questions to them regarding their stances on gender and sexuality, and their plans for inclusion on campus.

Unfortunately, a few candidates did not have accessible contact information, but we were able to contact five of the candidates (Bruce Campbell, Dave Dutch, Mike Miller, Brianna Scott, and Kelly Tebay). These are the questions we posed to all five candidates that we could reach.

  1. How will you contribute to a supportive environment for women, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Pansexual/Transgender/Queer people, and gender nonbinary people at MSU?
  2. How are you going to support the organizations on campus that do work to foster an environment that is free of sexual, gender, and racial/ethnic harassment and violence?
  3. What values or purpose do you intend to bring to the BOT especially with regards to how diversity and inclusion are prioritized?
 

Bruce Campbell (Libertarian)

Our Libertarian Party platform is pro diversity.  We do not exclude anyone from our party.  In fact we champion those who are from other groups i.e. race, gender, etc. For further information please contact our chair person, Bill Hall at chair(at)michiganlp.org. We are a major party in Michigan, achieving primary ballot access this year.  Many members hold public offices in local governments including school boards, county, city and township offices. Personally, I have responded to the Detroit Free Press and the League of Women's Voters "Voter Guide questionnaires." Please see my biographical page and answers at Vote411.org
 
I shall endeavor to answer your questions and appreciate your asking for my input.  Allow me to show my lifetime example in personal relationships which pertain to the objectives of your organization. While in high school at age 18 I was elected to a church vestry at Saint Johns Episcopal Church, St. Johns, MI.  That same election also saw the first woman elected to this board  which had previously been all white males over fifty years old.  She stated at the first meeting, "Just because I'm a woman, doesn't mean I make the coffee for each meeting."  I thought how refreshing and bold of her to set the record that she would be treated as an equal.  When I was eleven, attending Bad Axe elementary school, I was sexually assaulted. This occurred in sixth grade in front of the whole class.  The teacher, a lesbian, just watched. She explained to my mother, she didn't know what to do. Going to the prosecutor was useless, his son was involved. I almost died from a burst appendix.  Our family moved from the area.  Shame and guilt plagued me for years until I received counseling and attended classes with other victims at about age forty-five.  I received a "F" in high school physical education class as I felt "funny" about being naked and having to take showers in front of other boys. At my first marriage ceremony, our matron of honor was our supervisor, Linda also was a lesbian.  She of course was a good friend too.  In 1973 we moved to Rogers City, MI.  I had left the teaching field and was now social worker.  Our landlord had moved to McComb, MI.  She called and begged us to take her son in as he was "having trouble" adjusting to a big city school.  It was his senior year.  Chris was smart and played basketball as well as worked at night.  In June he left to go down below (lower MI).  About five miles out his car broke down.  He called me to help, he could of called lots of friends.  He knew he could trust me. Chris went on to U of M to study medicine.  He visited our home and brought his male friend.  They loved each other very much and held hands. They were welcome in our home.  A co-worker in Allegan announced to me that she was gay.  I told Carol that I didn't need to know that information that she was still a friend and in fact enjoyed being in her company especially for a few beers after work.  My sons, who have muscular dystrophy, grew up with twin girls.  One in her words "chose" to be gay while the other dated boys.  These ladies died and there was no difference in their DNA, brain cells, etc.  I have always been a person who warmly embraces with a hug.  In church, this includes a young man, now a realtor in Chicago, as well as a man who has been married over fifty years. Both have come out.  We have entertained them in our home and count them as friends. We, my wife and I, have also gone to visit them in their homes.  In Allegan, there is a person who presents herself at city council meetings and whose opinion is highly respected. She fought for our country in Vietnam as a male.  In the elementary school, where my grandchildren attend, there is a young student who has identified as female.  The school authorities have correctly accepted this, allowing her to use her female name, etc. They have helped other classmates to understand the situation and treat this as normal, nothing special nor degrading. While working for the Post Office in Grand Rapids, a (black) man was amazed in how much black history I knew. I gained his respect and trust as a friend. I have worked with many people of different races, backgrounds, gender and sexual orientation.  I trust this thumb nail look into my life has helped to get to know me. I have always championed the rights of the poor.  We have taken in homeless people irregardless of who they were.   I am color blind and enjoy and cherish friendships of many people of other races, cultures or backgrounds. Thanks to MSU I have lived overseas with a family in Switzerland and in Paris, France as a university student, This experience has helped me in understanding people who come to America, how they may feel away from home in a strange land. We have entertained foreigners in our home, especially making students feel welcome. I have helped "illegals" to become lawful citizens.
 
Now to your questions.
 
#1 - How will you contribute to a supportive environment for women, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Pansexual/Transgender/Queer people, and gender nonbinary people at MSU?
 
I intend to keep right on living a life style that embraces all persons as human beings with a right to live their life as they choose.  As a Trustee of MSU (I was a charter member of Justin Morrill College in 1965 - BA in 1969) I intend to champion diversity and respect for each person.  After-all, we all bleed the same, we all have tears, and should be judged by our character and intellect or talented gifts. It is sad that we need to have an organization to teach others validity of identification, acceptance and tolerance. I should hope for a better future and do all that is possible to obtain this goal.  Some ideas would be to remove from forms such as admission papers the question of race, gender, etc. which have nothing to do with a person's academic experience.  I would hope that the university has policies regarding sexual harassment, assault, etc. and the need for enforcement without 
"cover-ups".  The need for transparency is paramount and should not be political. A policy of zero tolerance must be in place weather it is a student or employee.  The civil rights of each person should be respected as these are our Constitutional Rights as outlined especially in the Bill of Rights.  We all are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a jury of our peers.  The privacy of victims and their story must be believed during  investigations before consequences to accused of being dispelled or being fired take place.  Indecently, I have helped in our local community to set up a safe home for abused women/families as well as a group to help abused/neglected children to have an advocate in the court system. As  a Trustee I will continue to be patient and listen to all opinions. Each one of us has a right to speak without intimidation of mob rule, intolerance or being shouted down or physically attacked. I enjoy reading and research and apply this when reaching viable solutions to problems. 
 
#2 - How are you going to support the organizations on campus that do work to foster an environment that is free of sexual, gender, and racial/ethnic harassment and violence?
 
I probably have answered some of this in the above statements. I shall endeavor to stand by any organization that seeks to right "wrongs". It is important that training is given to all employees and students in tolerance of others who may be perceived as different from themselves. All should have a student/employee handbook regarding acceptable behavior, how to report an incident, and what consequences will take place including prosecution. Everyone should know that MSU will not tolerate bullying, hazing, harassment, sexual assault, or violence. If this is not current policy, I will push hard to have this changed and implemented. The mess of the real incident in the athletic department and the cover-up is intolerable  and has caused damage to MSU's reputation. Have the authorities learned anything?  The monetary cost is a waste of tax dollars and could of been better used to cut tuition expenses.  Good old boys politics and excuses are unacceptable.  I will foster an environment that will be safe for all people, regardless of sex, race or identification.  All my life I have worked to defend the voiceless, poor, or defenseless, and will continue to do so. 
 
#3 - What values or purpose do you intend to bring to the BOT especially with regards to how diversity and inclusion are prioritized?
 
My values include a Christian faith that shows by its works how to behave toward others.  I would not presume to stuff my religion down anyone's throat.  I think a good example speaks volumes. Expressing love for others is more than tolerance.  It includes forgiveness being wronged, but not forgetting an incident.  It doesn't involve revenge but correction.  Being kind, gentle, etc. doesn't mean I'm to be treated as a door mat to be walked over.  Confrontation against "evil" involves tough love.  We are all different, come from different backgrounds and experiences. How diversity is accepted or affirmed depends on upbringing or education on inclusiveness. Attending a world class university should bring an awareness to all of many differences. We do
not live in isolated ivy towers.  It might be the first time a student meets someone of a different race, religion or background.  It should be an enjoyable experience making friends from a foreign country, or understanding people who identify differently. We don't need to wear tags around our necks to be accepted. Priorities should be made available to expand our horizons of viewpoint, open-mindedness and how we judge one another.  Putting down someone's opinion in a classroom, or intolerance of lifestyle behavior should not be tolerated.  Rewarding academic or athletic excellence should be MSU's main goal.  We can be an example to the rest of society and we can be the best for the future.  If we haven't learned from our mistakes in history, we are doomed to repeat them. We are better than this.  As Americans we should enjoy the blessings of life (all lives matter: young, old,  black, white, Asian or Latino), liberty (from speech to life style choices that don't deny someone else's freedom) and the pursuit of happiness (each individual has rights to do their thing in private, work, school, business, ownership, etc.) without being subject to violence, laws or behavior that discriminates, is bigoted or prejudicial. 
 
I covet your vote to help make MSU and its environment safe, diverse and tolerate now and in the future.  Choosing a new president and overcoming the recent sexual incident with cover-up are two major issues facing our University as Trustees. 

Dave Dutch (Republican)

#1 - How will you contribute to a supportive environment for women, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Pansexual/Transgender/Queer people, and gender nonbinary people at MSU?
 
As the father of a transgender son, a cisgender son and two cisgender daughters, I understand the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for all groups that might sometimes feel marginalized or excluded from mainstream society.  As Trustee, it is one of my duties to make sure all Spartans feel safe, comfortable and an equal member of Spartan Nation.  I will do my part to hold the president accountable if the environment at MSU allows for the exclusion of any group or person. 
 
#2 - How are you going to support the organizations on campus that do work to foster an environment that is free of sexual, gender, and racial/ethnic harassment and violence?
 
I believe selecting a new president of MSU that explicitly supports these groups, clubs, offices, programs and centers needs to be a top priority in presidential search process.  Additionally, I will commit to personally visiting with these organizations to make sure their voices are heard by the board of Trustees and our executive staff.
 
#3 - What values or purpose do you intend to bring to the BOT especially with regards to how diversity and inclusion are prioritized?
 
As a Trustee, I will be a vocal advocate of policies and a culture that errs to being open and inclusive.  This is consistent with our land grand history and the path to an even brighter future for MSU.  It is also consistent with my values as a human being, husband and father.  I am a person of principle and I believe discrimination in any form is unacceptable.  I believe the same goes for MSU and its board of Trustees.

Mike Miller (Republican)

No reply as of 10/16/18.

Brianna Scott (Democrat)

#1 - How will you contribute to a supportive environment for women, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Pansexual/Transgender/Queer people, and gender nonbinary people at MSU?
 
An early, and critically important, contribution I will make as a Trustee will be to champion the hiring of a new President who will prioritize the creation of a safe and supportive climate for all members of Michigan State University community. Clearly, MSU has failed to provide such a climate for the female students who constitute more than half of its student body, while instead maintaining a culture that silenced the voices of young women. Our new President should have a record of experience and leadership that demonstrates a value for the role of campus culture in supporting student achievement and the social and emotional well-being of students. It is also critical that, as a member of the Board of Trustees, I work to ensure that there is adequate funding to implement policies and programs that will support this change. An increase in mental health and other support services for MSU has the potential to help the university become a national leader rather than a national disgrace.

As a Trustee, I will also advocate for the review and oversight of current University policies and practices that discriminate against women and other marginalized groups, including those addressing sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, although MSU’s Anti-Discrimination policy has affirmed the right of all students, employees, visitors to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, the Ordinances of the MSU Board of Trustees continue to include the confusing and outdated language of Ordinance 1.00 (.01) Use of Restrooms/Locker Rooms for Opposite Sex that states that “No person shall knowingly enter into, engage in peeping into, open the door of, or knowingly be in any rest room or locker room which has a sign posted indicating or designating that the rest room or locker room is for the use of the opposite sex.” An additional example would involve the recent re-structuring of the Title IX office and the Office of Institutional Equity, with these offices primarily staffed by white women, rather than a more diverse group of leaders including minority groups, members of the LGBTQ community, as well as individuals with disabilities. 

#2 - How are you going to support the organizations on campus that do work to foster an environment that is free of sexual, gender, and racial/ethnic harassment and violence?
 
I plan to engage in bi-Monthly or quarterly “town hall” meetings that will be held in dorms and in various offices throughout campus, such as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center, to speak with students about their concerns and suggestions on how to improve their experience at MSU. As well, I will hold office hours to allow those who chose to, an opportunity to sit down with me one on one or in a small group. Where possible, I will attend events sponsored by these organizations.

Moreover, I will advocate for increased awareness of these groups and for their representation and involvement when various leadership groups and task forces are being developed. Lastly, I will work with organizations to formulate initiatives throughout the school year to educate the campus community about the organizations and assist in planning programming to celebrate the different minority groups on campus inviting all to learn from and celebrate the differences that make MSU’s campus to rich with diversity.

#3 - What values or purpose do you intend to bring to the BOT especially with regards to how diversity and inclusion are prioritized?
 
Issues of diversity and inclusion would absolutely be among my highest priorities. As an African-American woman, I attended a high school with only a handful of people of color and was so grateful for the opportunity to attend MSU with many more people who “looked like me.” I am committed to providing that same experience to all students from marginalized groups. It is important that students see themselves reflected in the faculty and curriculum to which they are exposed in order to create this sense of belonging and inclusiveness.

Systemic racism and implicit bias are pervasive in our public educational system. The Board of Trustees should support a review of MSU’s admissions policies to ensure that they offer an unbiased admissions process that offers equal opportunity for all students. The university should foster strong relationships with high school guidance offices to promote and assist with the applications of minority students and then provide the necessary financial support and assistance with academic and social adjustment to the university setting. I would also advocate for the hiring of Alumni Liaisons that are from the areas where students are underrepresented, who would work with Admissions towards identifying and recruiting “Students of Promise” as young as 9th grade, so that we are providing access for these students and allowing them a one on one relationship that would remain throughout high school, of someone they can relate, look up to and rely on to assist them through the admissions process.

Presently, the graduation rate for all minority students languishes far below that of white students, including the graduation rate for our minority student athletes who contribute to the University’s financial resources. This will also demand a careful review and action planning to support not only the recruitment of minority students, but their retention and graduation as well.

I would also look into establishing additional investments in programs designed to support student recruitment,retention, and achievement. It would be important that MSU measure results and communicate these broadly in the university community. MSU should also seek additional grants to support diversity recruitment and programming. Additionally, we must actively assess needs and develop programs to serve populations that have traditionally received less attention, such as Hispanic, American Indian, Appalachian, and LGBT faculty, staff, and students. Lastly, MSU should increase visibility and coordination of programming and services for individuals with disabilities throughout the campus.

I would support the current joint effort of the Association of American Universities urging congressional leadership to immediately enact a permanent measure allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) participants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation. I would also fully support the efforts of undocumented students to pursue their education at MSU and policy of “non-collaboration” with federal immigration authorities.

My value for diversity and inclusion has been reflected in my professional career, as the Chair (2014 - present) of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee for the Muskegon Rotary Club, which serves the entire Muskegon County area, I have developed programming geared towards building bridges between marginalized groups and a community that has not always been very inclusive. The successes that I have had include the Love Lives Here campaign, yearly ENPACT (Enhancing Police & Public Trust) Forums and the annual Muskegon Heights/Muskegon Rotary Community Mixer. Each year the events get bigger and bigger and work toward healing racial divides that are so prominent in my community. I will bring this same level of passion and commitment to fostering understanding and inclusion to my work on the MSU Board of Trustees.

Kelly Tebay (Democrat)

No reply as of 10/16/18.

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