It’s Time For Student Organizers To Get The Goods

For college students across our state, the last few months have been rough. As many schools abruptly backtracked on their promises of in-person classes this fall, it was clear that pandemic life was far from over. While many fraternities foolishly decided it was business as usual, many of us had their hopes deflated. However, what many did not expect is that the shutdown would be far, far worse than just online classes and no (safe) parties. Over at Michigan, students tested for COVID-19 were forced to quarantine in apartments with virtually no supplies. More than 100 RAs declared that the conditions were unsafe. And while it would be easy to jeer at our normal axis of evil for being well, shit, this goes far beyond students’ usual issues with uncaring administrators. This was the University of Michigan putting their students’ safety and wellbeing in the direct line of fire.

The conditions at UM were so dire that on September 7th, the Graduate Employees Organization voted to strike. They demanded stronger COVID-19 remote work policies, as well as a 50% defunding of the Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) into community policing measures. The latter is ambitious for any campus, but now is the time to push for it, especially with Black Lives Matter protests still lingering from the summer.

UM reacted to these demands with open hostility. After the GEO struck down their initial settlement, the administration moved forward with an injunction against the union. Given the options to either end the strike or risk millions of dollars in damages and the potential dissolution of their own organization, the GEO settled. The strike was over.

Now that the dust has settled, what can we make of this on our end? It’s not as if we don’t have things to protest over: last month, MSU RHS furloughed around 700 student workers with only around two weeks’ notice. Soon after, the Spartan Solidarity Network released a petition and a list of demands, but neither have led to any change in the university’s policy. Besides this, tuition fees have gone largely unchanged, even as COVID shuts everything down to a crawl. Now is the time to either crack open the endowment or find some other way to relieve students in need of a stipend. As it stands, MSU remains fully committed to stiffing the most valuable members of its community.

It’s helpful to remember that our organizations are far from powerless. Earlier this year, the MSU Graduate Employees’ Union (aided by hundreds of professors and ASMSU) took a firm stance against Stephen Hsu, the then-Vice President for Research and Innovation who had been called out for supporting scientific racism, sexism, and eugenics, among other issues. After nine days of pressure on the administration, President Stanley asked him to resign and he returned to his tenured professor position. That isn’t as sexy as, say, Hsu being fired and falling off the face of the earth, but it is a case of a successful campaign waged primarily by student organizers against MSU administration. Saying the words “general strike” could be too soon. It could also be a great act of hubris, given that the university could be as willing to play hardball with students as UM was. But I still reckon that there is the potential for something great to happen if student orgs can converge for real action on campus.

COVID-19 currently shows no sign of letting up. For as long as it continues, universities across the country are bound to make more decisions that put the livelihoods of their students in jeopardy. The lesson of the UM action is that the forces behind these decisions are strong, but also that the GEO and organizations alongside it were willing to throw down to preserve the rights of their students. This is a lesson that student organizers need to internalize as hard as they possibly can. If the opportunity arises, we need to be as ready as possible to seize it.

-L. Niño

Who Is The Holmes Hall RA?: O. Justice, Where Art Thou?

Editor’s Note: We regret to inform you that The Evening Look’s Holmes Hall correspondent O. Justice has found Jesus and now lends his extensive investigative talents to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. L. Squirrel has temporarily taken up the quest to discover the elusive Holmes Hall in his stead. This is the story of how we lost Justice. We eagerly await his return.

Read the first installment of the Holmes Hall series here.

Dark, wet, and dreary. The perfect weather. With my trenchcoat collar popped and a black bowler hat atop my head, I retain complete anonymity. I am one with the night, only visible by the smoky light of my vintage Woodrow Wilson pipe, custom-engraved with “Black Lives Matter”. I can stealthily drift across the campus of this mysterious institution, rivaling Sisyphus in my devotion to duty. The drizzling rain makes it easier to escape from the clutching grasps of the diabolical swine who roam these forsaken lands. They seek to muzzle me, to cover my mouth and suppress my speech by force. But I will not be silenced. As a wise man once stated, they merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. And men of the darkness do not wear masks.

The weather reminds me of a similar night many moons ago. The night when I became a pariah. But I was not searching for the place that currently occupies my every waking moment. I was searching for a person. I was searching for the foundational scholar of this column and the quest it entails — Justice himself. He had been missing for almost sixteen hours. He left at dawn that morning, stumbling half-naked off the second-floor balcony of our offices and proclaiming a breakthrough in the case. It was the second-to-last time I would ever see my friend. 

I knew something was terribly wrong when the clock struck eleven. He never missed an opportunity to lay back in the moldy reclining chair stolen from his grandmother’s estate sale, throw back some gin & tonic, and accuse Jimmy Kimmel of war crimes. His absence from this nightly ritual was a grim sign indeed. I set off immediately, searching for the obvious signs: a trail of discarded mini bottles of Fireball or the scent of cocaine cut with Annie’s white cheddar mac n’ cheese powder. I picked up a trail that took me in circles around a large, circular brick building, finally concluding by the statue of a man dribbling a basketball in shorts that revealed a disconcertingly large bulge. Perplexed, I wondered if it was indicative of a larger health issue. Fearing that all was lost, my attention was suddenly drawn to the gray-roofed quadrilateral complex to my east.

The building was surrounded by flashing lights, blinding me with their suddenness in my pitch-black surroundings. I had seen nothing like that since a forgotten day in Budapest many years ago. I walked up to the building, sneaking past the driverless cars to take a look inside. Peering through the foggy glass, I saw Justice for the last time. He was magnificent, riding a Zamboni in circles around the ice as he tossed popcorn at imaginary spectators, a Taiwanese flag draped from his shoulders. A field of broken glass littered the rink and a gigantic container of industrial lubricant lay sideways, spilling its contents into the west net. It was an ethereal sight, but it disappeared before I could truly comprehend its brilliance. A cadre of armed men swooped down from the rafters, tackling Justice to the ice. I turned away, unable to watch the scene unfolding before me. Justice may be blind, but I can see clearly now. The rain is gone. I can see all the obstacles in my way. They told us that Justice was put into rehab. They told us he was doing well; he discovered the Bible from some missionaries and was moving to Utah. But I know the truth.

You may have gotten my friend. Converted him to your coffee-less hullabaloo, filling another page in your binders full of men. But know this, o’ faithless guardians of Holmes Hall. I am coming. I will not cease. I am homeless, untethered to this mortal realm. And so I fear not the reaper as I throw glass at stone houses. And I will tear down the gates that guard this modern-day Forbidden City, unleashing its many gifts upon the world. I just have to find it first.

– L. Squirrel

Mr. Stanley, Tear Down The Frats

Congratulations for making it this far into the year, Spartans! And double congratulations to the upperclassmen and freshmen savvy enough to grab a last-second sublease. When Mister Doctor Professor Samuel Leonard Stanley Jr. M.D. canceled in-person classes and sent home most on-campus students, our lingering hope of a somewhat normal semester was finally put to rest. However, one campus institution won’t be going anywhere: fraternities and sororities.

Continue reading Mr. Stanley, Tear Down The Frats

Education Apps are a Disease

Going into my freshman year at MSU, I thought I was aware of all the ways that colleges can take extra money on top of tuition. Textbooks? I rented them, unless I was forced to buy a new edition. Blue Books? Bummed them from my friends or Student Services. I was going to be the one college student who was Aware of the System.

Then the education technology showed up.

Continue reading Education Apps are a Disease

There Goes The Last Great American Late Night

After Mr. Dr. President Sir Samuel L. Stanley Jr MD, DDS, Esq.’s decision to kick MSU online this fall, we’re all still dealing with the fallout. Off-campus apartments have been swarmed with freshmen who desperately want to socialize after five months of being trapped in their homes with their parents. I can’t say I blame them.

Continue reading There Goes The Last Great American Late Night

The Day Dantonio Disappeared

In the year of our lord 2015, Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State Spartans had their final truly great season together (2017 was a good year for MSU too, but we’ll get to that later). These Spartans went 11-1 in the regular season, losing only to unranked Nebraska and securing the win against the hated Michigan Wolverines off of some infamous trouble with the snap.

After plowing through the rest of their schedule and defeating Iowa in the Big Ten championship match, the Spartans were ranked no. 3. On December 31st, these Spartans, with the collective momentum of a near-perfect season and the wind at their backs, faced off with the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff.  

And they got broken in half, 38-0.

Continue reading The Day Dantonio Disappeared

The Two Hundred Million Dollar Man

On October 11, 2019, I was walking back from a regrettable purchase at The Rally House when my phone buzzed. I checked it and saw that The Evening Look had received a message through our contact form. At that point, we had been growing for nine months, so receiving an email was far from unusual. What was unusual was who sent it: Corey Washington, Director of Analytics at MSU’s Office of Research and Innovation. He wanted to invite us onto Manifold, a podcast he co-hosted with then-Vice President for Research and Innovation Stephen Hsu. Washington and Hsu were interested in how the “campus culture wars” of recent years have manifested in recent years and thought we could offer some valuable insight. L. Squirrel and I accepted this invitation, and our interview, recorded on October 15, was featured as part of a “bonus” episode of Manifold along with a separate interview they conducted with Sergei and Derek of The Morning Watch.

As L. Squirrel and I sat for our interview (brutally cut for time because Washington and Hsu repeatedly got into debates amongst themselves), it was obvious to us that Hsu was the more conservative of the two, although much of what led us to that conclusion is missing from the published version of our conversation. However, we failed a spot check on Hsu’s exact beliefs. We failed to realize that an Academic Boomer like Hsu wouldn’t place wild takes on his barren Twitter, but instead that he’d do it old school. We’re talking Blogspot.com, baby!

Just over eight months later, MSU president Samuel Stanley requested Hsu’s resignation from his role at the OVPRI, which Hsu accepted with a little bit of grumbling. How did Hsu fall from successful podcast host and renowned research genius, known for securing $200 million more per year in research expenditures for MSU compared the amount before his tenure, to merely a tenured physics professor in that short span? 

Continue reading The Two Hundred Million Dollar Man

It’s Worse Than Trash, It’s Turning Point USA

4:20 AM. Easter Sunday. I awoke in a cold sweat in my childhood bedroom, suddenly haunted by the uncertainty that surrounds us. What do I really know? Am I even real? Well, I am thinking, I thought, and according to Descartes, that means that I am. But what else do I know? I jumped out of bed and fired up my laptop to find some answers. Any answer.

I opened Google and searched for “three undeniable facts”.

My heart was racing. I clicked on the first link. It was a video featuring a fellow named Rob Smith from Turning Point USA. The three undeniable facts are as follows: America is the greatest country on the planet, Donald Trump is saving America, and America will never be a socialist country.

You and I, dear reader, are in for a treat today.

Continue reading It’s Worse Than Trash, It’s Turning Point USA

The Weirdest Guy In The House

Check out our article on Beau’s opponent, Renee Richer!

No figure in American politics combines weirdness and consequential power like the state legislator. Just in the past decade, examples include the Georgia senator who was tricked by Sacha Baron Cohen into biting the head off a dildo and screaming the N-word to deter terrorists, the New Hampshire state representative who founded /r/TheRedPill, one of the most misogynist areas of Reddit, and the Tennessee state representative who drank out of a chocolate syrup bottle on the House floor (a privilege that I would ABSOLUTELY take advantage of).

Many of these civil servants reside and work in other states outside of Michigan. Here, we usually have legislators who don’t stray too far into personal weirdness no matter how strange their beliefs. However, there always seems to be an exception to the rule, and Michigan’s exception truly embodies this spirit of deep weirdness to go along with his munted conservatism — Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain).

You may wonder why this publication, which usually writes about campus issues, is writing about a guy who represents a remote part of Michigan over 400 miles north of East Lansing. Well, about two months ago (ten years in COVID-19 time) we came into the possession of meeting minutes from a joint meeting between the MSU College Republicans and MSU Turning Point USA. The slides were filled with useful information about upcoming conservative events along with some cursed boomer memes. These organizations wanted to bring LaFave to the university in some capacity, which brings us to the man himself (a recent graduate of this very university).

Here are many things that Rep. LaFave has done that would be bizarre to any sane human, but are selling points for MSU’s College Republicans.

Continue reading The Weirdest Guy In The House

UPDATE: Two More ASMSU Endorsements

Due to mysterious IT issues, voting in the ASMSU elections was delayed until this morning, March 31, and extended to April 6. Our guess is that Russian bots finally realized how important this election is to the balance of power in this country. No doubt that many of you read our election guide yesterday and were confused why you couldn’t vote. Well, we were too.

The good news is that during the delay, two more fantastic candidates saw our article and contacted us. We’re proud to include Aaron Iturralde (Education) and Jordan Kovach (James Madison) in our first-ever group of endorsements.

Iturralde is running on a broad platform that includes making himself available to his constituents through phone and email, holding office hours, advocating to make fifth-year internships in the College of Education more affordable, increasing teacher wages, greater transparency, increased diversity in the College of Education, and much more.

Kovach’s platform includes greater accountability for racial bias incidents on campus, advocating for MSU to divest from fossil fuels, putting feminine hygiene products in all campus bathrooms, increasing sustainability in dining halls, and greater support for immigrant students, regardless of documentation. She has also served as the secretary for the ASMSU Freshman Class Council this year.

We hope to see both of these students in the General Assembly next year, and we hope that those of you reading this vote.

-The Evening Look Staff