At the Michigan State University Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 27, community members voiced their opinions to the members of the board in regards to whether Rema Vassar should or should not be removed from the board.
“The only way to know if students feel safe on this campus is by asking them and it is of the board to serve the students of this campus,” said Jordan Roebuck, parliamentarian for Black Students Alliance. “If you ask any Black student sitting here, it is nothing but the direct opposite of the promise of this university in protecting us to remove the only Black woman to ever serve as Chair of the MSU Trustees.”
In a letter written by Trustee Brianna Scott, she claimed that Vassar violated the board’s rules of conduct and ethics. The Detroit News obtained this letter which accused Vassar of being a bully in the workspace, and insisted that Vassar be relieved of her position as Chair.
At the meeting, board Trustee Renee Knake Jefferson announced that all of the accusations made against Vassar were fact checked and added, “what Trustee Scott reported was accurate.”
However, Vassar said that she will continue to be transparent as “questions and unfounded accusations continued to be lobbied” towards her. She added that she has willingly cooperated with ongoing investigations.
“The idea that I have not committed to giving my phone is a lie,” Vassar said.
Advocates at the meeting went back and forth on subjects surrounding Vassar, ethics of the Board of Trustees and the release of the 6,000 Larry Nassar documents.
“I am a University of Michigan graduate but despite our friendly rivalry I take no satisfaction in what Michigan State has gone through in these last few years,” said Sonya Mays, Board of Education member for Detroit Public School system. “I am frustrated to have watched this great university lurch from crisis to crisis.”
A supporter of the letter written by Trustee Scott stated that the board should “do what’s good for the university and its students.”
While some agree, others affirm that the allegations made against Vassar are racially and politically motivated and state that Vassar has done nothing but stand by the students of MSU.
“How is this call to remove Dr. Rema reflective of the promise from the board to ensure safety for students?” Roebuck said.
“Rema is someone that just displays love in her interactions with students and is like no other, in terms of other trustees,” said Devin Woodruff, a senior at Michigan State University.
In response to students, Scott emphasizes that Vassar is not the only Black woman on the board and has not been the only member of the board who has actively cared about the Black students at MSU and the members of Black Students Alliance.
“It’s very hard for me to sit here and listen to people act as if there’s not two Black women that are sitting here at this table,” Trustee Scott said.
Scott said that she has had multiple meetings with various organizations on MSU’s campus that exceed that of Black students. She lists that she has interacted with the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Michigan State University Black Alumni, and even multiple meetings with Black Student Alliance.
The audience responded in laughter and uproar, resulting in listeners being asked to refrain from the interruption of Scott as she spoke.