Michigan State hosted an informational meeting days after President Trump issued an executive order banning immigration from seven countries. While many came with questions, university officials could only offer a little more than support. “We can’t change anything about the executive order,” said one speaker. “We are committed to supporting you.”
MSU faculty from the Office of International Students and Scholars addressed a jam-packed lecture hall in the international center. Lawyer Marie LaComb flipped through a powerpoint detailing the specifics of the ban.
DeVos Place hosted the Michigan Music Conference, an annual event bringing together the state’s music educators – many of whom have not rallied behind new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who’s namesake adorns the venue. The Michigan billionaire was confirmed in the Senate in a 51-50 decision, the win decided by a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. DeVos advocates for school-choice and using vouchers to pay for private schools. But her opponents dislike her lack of education experience. “You have to be working with the kids day by day to understand what it is we do,” said Farmington High School choir director, Angel Gippert.
As President-Elect Donald Trump continues to consider candidates for his cabinet, one who has already been chosen has influenced Michigan politics more than any other person in the state with the help of her family, and public school advocates say she threatens the foundations of the state and nation’s public school system. Last month, Trump chose Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education, something many experts say is a clear attempt to further privatize education by expanding the use of charter schools and the voucher system, something Betsy DeVos and her family have contributed financially to for the last 20 years. The family has combined to make about $14 million in political contributions in the last two years alone, according to Secretary of State data. “Their money has impacted numerous pieces of legislation in the House and Senate,” said Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which tracks political money throughout the state. “It’s obvious they wield a ton of power in not only Michigan politics but throughout the country.”
Mauger said the family’s giving in the state outnumbered the combined fundraising of the main state PACs for the United Auto Workers, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Association for Justice over that time period.
One of Donald Trump’s most popular campaign promises is to build a physical barrier between America and Mexico. Furthermore, he is confident that he will make Mexico pay for it. Is that plan as simple as he claims? “Honestly, I think it’s just more Donald Trump rhetoric that he himself knows,” said Anna Pegler-Gordon, a social relations and policy professor at Michigan State University. “It’s just not going to happen, but it’s a good sound bite.”
At one point, Trump threatened to restrict the flow of payments made by U.S. immigrants to their families in Mexico, which is vital to the Mexican economy, unless the agreed to foot the bill for the wall.
Content Warning: Mentions of sexual assault, violent language and comments from survivors
On Nov. 6, sexual assault survivors and their supporters will be gathered at the State Capitol for a pre-election survivor sit-in from 4-6 p.m., with a candlelight vigil at 5:45. The sit-in is in protest of the existence of rape culture within this election cycle – one that is encouraging many survivors to vote. “I wanted a space to gather with fellow survivors and to show the Michigan community, especially our political leaders, that the state of our nation is not OK,” said Christine Babcock, co-organizer of the event and a Western Michigan University alumna. The weekend Donald Trump’s assault tape was released, the National Sexual Assault Helpline reported an over 30 percent increase in calls from survivors.
Young voter turnout throughout the years has been stagnant, but with the majority of millennial voters now 18, the Nov. 8 presidential election could be decided by the youth. Young voters — people between the ages of 18 and 35 — are now just as powerful in presidential elections as their parents, according to analysis of U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center. The question now is: will they use their power to vote? East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks said young people are always moving, which makes it harder for them to register and subsequently cast a vote when the election arrives.
Marisa Lipcaman, a 20-year-old dietetics major at Michigan State, enjoys dancing and spending time with her friends and family. She minors in dance and is really interested in healthcare. “I feel that we over prescribe and rely on drugs heavily, which often have unpleasant side effects, so I want to use food as medicine,” said Lipcaman. Lipcaman, a junior who lives off campus, said her long-term goal is to work in a private practice and counsel people with clinical illnesses, or anyone that wants to start eating better. When she graduates, she’ll do a one-year internship and then take her exam to become a registered dietician.
Medina Osmanagic is a child of Bosnian immigrants — an identity that has drastically influenced her participation in American politics. “My family is not very Americanized and barely speaks English,” said the junior studying neuroscience and Spanish at Michigan State University. “They feel like they are less than everyone else.”
While her parents have lived in the United States for 19 years – after seeking refuge from the Bosnian War – they continue to hold a strong connection to their home country. This relationship with Bosnia has specifically affected Osmanagic’s willingness to participate in U.S. elections. “My parents have never voted a day in our (family’s) lives, so they never pushed it on us,” said Osmanagic.