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MSU trustees shelve voting rights resolution

Reginald Hardwick - WKAR-MSU

Michigan State University trustees on Friday decided not to vote on an agenda item that had been criticized by Republicans. A resolution on voter suppression would have called on university vendors to oppose the Republican-backed Secure MI Vote ballot effort.

Opposition to the measure, including suggestions of state funding cuts, convinced the board to remove it from the agenda.

Trustee Rema Vassar spoke about the need to fight what she sees as an effort to make it harder for people of color to vote.

“Anyone, be they red, blue, purple, plaid, who seeks to continue these deeply rooted efforts to suppress Black votes without regard to their method, means, or attempt to claim otherwise, will be challenged,” she said.

Before the meeting, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey had been quoted as saying the measure would call into question the board’s legitimacy.

Meanwhile, the appointment of an interim dean to lead the Michigan State University Broad College of Business met with resistance before being approved on a split vote.

Sanjay Gupta’s departure as dean was initially described as a resignation in mid-August, related to charges that he had failed to report misconduct by a member of his leadership team. Since then, Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Dan Kelly announced that the board has hired outside counsel to investigate, saying Gupta had been removed by MSU Provost Teresa Woodruff, with the support of President Samuel Stanley Jr.

Friday’s meeting agenda included approval of Judith Whipple as interim dean.

Kelly called for a pause on the appointment during the probe.

“I hope it’ll be completed very timely, and I mean shortly,” Kelly stated. “And so, I think this decision could have been paused for that basis, and that’s why I’m voting no.”

Board Chairperson Dianne Byrum voted for Whipple’s appointment, saying the business college “needs an academic head.”

In the end, the vote was 5-to-2 supporting the appointment, with one abstention.