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Feb. 14, 2018

Liz Schondelmayer: Continue to speak, continue to listen

Feb. 14, 2018

Liz Schondelmayer is a junior majoring in political science in the College of Social Science and media and information in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. She is also a College of Social Science Scholar.

As I take on the task of organizing and sharing my thoughts on the recent events that have transpired at my university, I feel the need to tread carefully.

As a student of MSU, as a woman, as someone who has experienced sexual harassment in the past, as a person who studies politics and communications, as a person with basic human empathy and compassion… I am very, very angry.

Yet, I am constantly reminding myself that this is not the time for anger. This is a time to communicate openly and honestly, and to be there for those around me.

Thus, I am not here to yell or hurl insults. I am instead writing this to try to give a glimpse into the perspective of MSU's students - especially those who are hurt and angry, like I am. As a student, this is what I have observed. This is what I have experienced, and these are the observations and experiences that have been shared with me from fellow students.

I see the school's mental health services team so desperate to help, but so understaffed it cannot nearly keep up with the needs of the student body.

I see thousands of angry internet users denounce our past president for her alleged role in the mishandling of the Nassar scandal, yet spring to the defense of athletic departments before any investigations are concluded.

I see my peers wary, afraid and tired of the campus culture, yet, I see our student sexual assault training program run entirely by "peer educators" who, though committed and caring individuals, seem to lack the resources to run the program effectively.

And I see other students mock the program and fail to take sexual assault seriously.

I see more than 150 brave, beautiful women speak about their abuse at the hands of a very evil man. And while I see expressions of concern, I also see what appears to be a lack of attentiveness when students ask to be included in important decisions that impact our lives every day.

Despite this, I see a student body coming together like never before.

I see survivors supporting one another, students supporting survivors and faculty and staff supporting students.

I see students continuing to speak, despite attempts to silence them, demanding for Michigan State University to become the university we all deserve.

I see a university faced with the incredible opportunity to challenge the culture that exists on college campuses across America and students ready to meet it head on.

But I also see people who seem hesitant to follow suit.

As a student, I hope to have my voice heard and understood and not denounced. I would like to speak directly to those who make the decisions that impact my college experience. My desire is that some of the talking could end and some of the doing begin.

It is so crucial and so important that all of us who care, all of us seeking justice and seeking to better this university, continue to fight. This is not the time to sit idle or wait for the right moment. We have to do the best with where we're at right now. Continue to speak. Continue to listen.

Continue to be there for each other.