We, the Graduate Employees Union at Michigan State University, condemn the bigoted, hateful, and harmful statements issued by MSU Trustee Mitch Lyons on January 31, 2017. In these statements, Lyons claims that a blanket ban of individuals from select Middle Eastern countries and of all refugees is needed to protect Spartans from terror attacks. We remind Lyons that MSU has never been a victim of terror. Our community of Iranian, Somali, Libyan, Iraqi, Syrian, Sudanese, Yemeni and refugee students, scholars, faculty, staff, family and friends have made the greater Lansing community a stronger and more dynamic place. We welcome this diversity to our campus. We also question why Lyons, who has been silent on the real threats of sexual assault, discrimination, and mental health on campus, would choose to instead express his strong support for a discriminatory ban on immigration.
We, the Graduate Employees Union at Michigan State University, also recognize that MSU is built on stolen Anishinaabe land. We find Lyons’ approach to defending this land that was already once so violently taken both abhorrent and hypocritical. We at the Graduate Employees Union support human rights without room for modification or exception. We recognize that immigrants and refugees make this university thrive, and we acknowledge that MSU would not succeed as a top tier research institute without the contributions of guest scholars from around the world. This, however, is not why we stand with those non-citizens and refugees who research, study, and teach across our campus. We stand with these workers and scholars because they are human, and because we stand with all human beings in defense of their rights.
We stand with President Simon’s statement in support of our entire Spartan family. We stand with the hundreds who rallied last night in firm defense of those members of our campus community who are under attack from Lyons and others who share his rhetoric. We call on Mitch Lyons to deliver an immediate public apology for the damage his hateful comments have already done to members of our diverse MSU community. We call on all Spartans to stand with us. We call on our campus and community to stand up and take meaningful action to support their fellow humans in these dark times.
We also remind all Spartans that Mitch Lyons is up for reelection in 2018.