Here’s how we did it

Our recent analysis of the 2017 campaign finance reports filed by Michigan state lawmakers was compiled by seven Michigan State University journalism students working for the Spartan Newsroom.

Researchers at MSU, elsewhere fear government shutdown

As Congress races toward another possible government shutdown on Thursday, researchers who rely on government grants and facilities fear debilitating consequences to their work.
January’s three-day shutdown provided a taste of what could come, but students and faculty at Michigan State University and across the nation fear the consequences of a lengthier shutdown.

Latinx town hall describes fears through stories

When a member of the Black Poet Society saw a group of young men using chalk to write “Build a wall” in front of the Spartan Statue, agribusiness major Alondra Alvizo felt she had to do something. “The Black Poet Society is a group of activists that use our words to defend our community,” said Alvizo. “That’s what we try to do.” Alvizo’s mother did not support the idea. The MSU junior attends the university on a full-ride scholarship; her mother feared activism could cost her scholarship money.

East Lansing City Council lowers penalty for underage marijuana possession

When attorney Jeffrey Hank drafted East Lansing’s successful ballot proposal to decriminalize the possession of marijuana in 2015, residents under the age of 21 were left in a legal limbo. “There was still a huge debate whether to go 18, 19 or 21 years of age,” said Hank. “We went with 21 because it was the most politically safe.” The proposal mandated that those over 21 could possess up to an ounce of marijuana, but those under 21 could still face a misdemeanor charge, along with a hefty fine and jail time, if caught in possession of the drug. On Oct.

No proposals on state ballot; Ingham to vote on 1 issue

Jeanne Day-Labo spent dozens of hours each week volunteering for MILegalize, an organization aiming to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan. The woman stood on intersections and other high-traffic locations gathering signatures to get a question on November’s ballot. In the end, MILegalize came up short. Although the organization turned in more than 370,000 certified signatures, well above the 252,000 required, the organization failed to collect the signatures within the mandated 180-day window. The activist said she believed Michigan’s laws work against grassroots and volunteer-based organizations.

Scholars encourage activism, condemn Islamophobia

Although the 2016 presidential race has shined a spotlight on Muslim Americans, several experts who spoke Sept. 29 at Michigan State’s “Muslims and the Upcoming U.S. Elections” panel voiced concerns regarding Muslim participation in the election. Sarrah Buageila, a researcher at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, said her research shows just 60 percent of eligible Muslim Americans are registered to vote, underperforming other religious groups. By comparison, she said, at least 86 percent of eligible Jews, Catholics and Protestants are registered. “We have quite a way to go to catch up to other groups,” said the Ann Arbor resident.