Three candidates for the Michigan State University Board of Trustees presented their positions Wednesday in an online forum.
Republican Pat O’Keefe and Democrats Brian Mosallam and Rema Vassar answered questions ranging from diversity, equity and inclusion to COVID-19 protocols.
When asked how he would handle budgetary constraints, incumbent Brian Mosallam acknowledged the university is in a “fluid situation.”
“We’re in a situation that we’ve never seen before, and it’s going to take a lot of fiscal stewardship in the next year or two years…of really trimming fat and looking at ways to cut costs,” Mosallam says. “Because the last thing we want to do is affect the people.”
O’Keefe called out Mosallam for his role in granting a pay raise to former MSU president Lou Anna Simon in the midst of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.
“Most alums that I talk to are offended and are withholding contributions to the university,” O’Keefe says. “So, I think if you want to start to clean up the public image, I think the board members that were present during that period of time need to go.”
Another question addressed a recent White House executive order that MSU officials perceive as a threat to the school’s stance on diversity.
Vassar vehemently opposes the order, calling it “hot trash.”
“We don’t have the luxury of fear in terms of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice,” says Vassar. “We just don’t have time to be afraid. If it were to come to our door…we’ve got to fight it.”
A total of 10 candidates are running for two seats on the MSU Board of Trustees. The winners will each serve an eight-year term.