School spirit mixed with a little tear gas – that’s the current life of a MSU student. But remember back in middle school, when you had to write an essay on your “metaphor for life?” I remember having to decide between a rollercoaster, a placid lake, a mountain range and some other generic scenario everyone uses to describe the great looming question of what life really means. Of course, I have no idea what I chose life to be way back when and I still have no idea what life really is today. But like “life,” each school year can be a mini rollercoaster, a mini lake, a mini mountain range all on its own. There are ups and downs, highs and lows in each scenario and in each academic year.
This year in particular, though, I think “life” can be paralleled to a picture a little different from the standard. Fall ’04 to Spring ’05 was like the infamous night of April 2. The highs were like right after the game when everyone cheered for MSU shouting, “Go Green, Go White!” The lows were when the police charged the crowds as well as innocent people walking down Grand River with tear gas and used brute force to threaten excited Spartan fans.
“Go Green, Go White!” Highs
GO. April 2 started off on a high and Spartan school spirit was not only well displayed that night but all throughout the past year. As MSU has reached its sesquicentennial, the administration and students have bound together to reflect on our 150 years of history. Most were impressed by our accomplishments, but other students understood we still have much to do until our school proves to truly be an equal opportunity university. The 150 Years of Struggle campaign was therefore essential in demonstrating to the entire community just how much higher MSU should be aiming.
GREEN. Furthermore, this year was marked by a successful change in administration and personnel. With the retirement of former President M. Peter McPherson and your move literally just down the hall from provost to president, it wouldn’t have been surprising for the university to experience a period of distress and unease. Yet the transition went smoothly, and having been here for so long, you already knew the ropes of how to get things done at MSU.
GO. One of these problems was MSU’s need to join the Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC). For one reason or another, McPherson had been reluctant to join the effort to stop the empowerment of sweatshops in the production of college clothing. You, however, have recently decided to join the WRC, which will allow MSU to partner in a worldwide effort to rid all universities of sweatshop and child labor-produced clothing. I only hope you go through with your promise to join and work with the student activists who have been fighting for this cause for five years.
WHITE. On a completely different note, another shout of green and white came right before the start of the school year with MSU’s switch to e-billing this past fall. This not only saves the university over 40,000 sheets of paper and 40,000 more envelopes, but it ensures no letter is lost in the postal system. Of course, no one was shouting “Go Green, Go White!” when they received the actual bill, but the overall ease that comes with paying tuition has greatly improved.
Tear Gas Canister Explosion Lows
TEAR. Although MSU may have been trying to save paper in its switch to e-billing, the termination of the recycling program was a canister of tear gas right in the face. Despite student environmental organizations’ efforts to reinstate the program, MSU as a whole has done nothing to help save thousands of trees cut down for its paper supply each year. MSU cannot expect its students to be upstanding, environmentally-conscious citizens if it does not provide avenues to do so.
GAS. Back in November, even before recycling became such a lost cause, election day was another so-called riot. Although there was an incredibly high student voter turnout, the confusion on campus that day was equally incredible. Having to stand in lines for hours at a time in order to sign up more than a month before getting in another line which brought you to the voting booth itself, many students were unable to vote due to time constraints and disorder. Of course, election day only comes around every four years, but the organization of campus voting should be comprehensible enough so no student has an excuse to not exercise our American rights.
CANISTER. More recently, these same rights were what all graduate student TAs were asking for in their negotiations with MSU this spring. Low wages, lack of health benefits and parking bans are nothing compared to the lack of respect these students get from MSU. They teach over 40 percent of all classes on campus and grade all lecture style class papers and assignments. Without them MSU would be unable to function, and yet the administration seems unable to keep these points in mind during debates over a much-needed new contract with the Graduate Employees Union.
EXPLOSION. In the same way as April 2 started off on a high, it ended at an all-time low. Although this school year need not end similarly, the controversy over the events that night has placed a permanent scar on this year’s memories. Even though the university could have come out and supported either the stance of its students or that of the police, no stance was taken at all. Your official statement was released over two weeks after the nights in question. By offering no support and releasing conflicting reports, the administration failed to take responsibility for any part of the situation. Avoiding a problem does not make it disappear. Swooping in late with a statement that doesn’t challenge the actions of the ELPD doesn’t either.
So, L.A., how do you think this year has gone? You’ve experienced it from two very different perspectives, both as provost and as president, and I’m sure you have your own opinions as each of us does.
Now as everyone tearfully waves goodbye to graduating seniors, wishing exams were over and stuffing the last belongings into cardboard boxes from the caf, it is obvious the year is coming to an end. Yet there is hope that next year will be filled with more green and white… and fewer canisters of tear gas.
Rem N. Iscent

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