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S E M EST E R I N R EV I EW STUDENTS RETURNED TO MSU’S CAMPUS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE SPRING 2020 THIS FALL. AMID THEIR RETURN CAME NEW COVID-19 MANDATES, STAFF SHORTAGES IN DINING HALLS, A 10-2 FOOTBALL TEAM AND MORE. PAGE 7
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THE STATE NEWS FALL 2021 DIVERSITY REPORT By Tessa Jazwinski Tjazwinski@statenews.com
At The State News, a priority is not only implementing diversity within our coverage and stories but also within our staff. This report is used to be transparent with our readers about our newsroom makeup and to be clear about what areas our staffers would like to see improvement in. The State News works to implement new efforts to help with accessibility and diversity, like slowly incorporating alternative text options to our Instagram. One of the main objectives of The State News is to highlight everyone at Michigan State University and ensure The State News is bringing in coverage from all organizations and cultures on campus and in East Lansing.
HOW WE MADE THIS REPORT
This report was brought by The State News Diversity, Equity and Inclusion coordinator Tessa Jazwinski, Editor-in-Chief Karly Graham, and Managing Editor Jayna Bardahl. Using a Google Survey, The State News’ staff was asked to self-identify based on the questions asked. Additionally, this report shows the identities of the sources we interviewed based on self-identification. Our goals for fall 2021 were similar to previous years: to highlight more minority groups at Michigan State University and amplify their voices, understand who is being represented as voices at The State News and create a more accessible platform on social media for people with disabilities.
Cisgender male 31.4% Cisgender female 68.6%
2020, The State News had 27 members identify as cisgender females, 15 identify as cisgender male and one student who identified as “transgender or nonbinary.”
Regarding sexuality, 40 staff members identify as heterosexual, eight identify as bisexual, one identified as asexual, one identified as homosexual and one selected “prefer not to answer.” In spring 2021, 36 members of the staff identified as heterosexual, while 11 indenfitied as bisexual, homosexual or asexual.
The State News consists of 51 MSU students, which was identical to spring 2021. During fall 2021, 74.5% or 38 students identified themselves as white or caucasian. The remaining students identified as the following: 6 (11.8%) as Black or African American, down 2.2% from spring 2021. 1 (2%) as Indian or Indian American, same as spring 2021. 2 (3.9%) as Hispanic or Latinx, down 4.1% from spring 2021. 1 (2%) as Native American, same as spring 2021. 0 (0%) as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Island, same as spring 2021. 4 (7.8%) as Asian or Asian American, same as spring 2021. 1 (2%) as Pakistani, up 2% from spring 2021. In lieu of a two or more races option, The State News allowed for students to select more than one option under race if they identify that way. For example, a mixed-race student could select that they were caucasian and Black. Some options and comparisons may be affected by this. Additionally, there was an “Other” option so students could be more specific about what they identify as if they chose to do so. The information from MSU fall enrollment is provided by the Diversity at MSU 2019-20 Annual Student and Workforce Data Report. In fall 2020, Black students made up 7.9% of the total domestic student population.
Similar to previous years, The State News has a more female-dominated staff. The State News has 35 (68.6%) cisgender female-identifying staff members compared to 16 (31.4%) identifying as male. In spring 2021, The State News had 36 staff members identify as cisgender female and 14 identify as cisgender males. In fall 2
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Prefer not to answer 2%
YEAR IN SCHOOL
The staff has 18 (35.3%) juniors or third year students, 15 (29.4%) seniors or fourth years, five (9.8%) freshmen or first years, three (5.9%) graduate students and two (3.9%) fifth year or more undergraduate students.
This semester The State News added political affiliation to the questionnaire. Twenty-one (41.2%) identified as strong liberal, 17 (33.33) identified as moderate liberal, six (11.8%) identified as neutral, three (5.9%) identified as leftist, two (3.9%) prefered not to answer, one (2%) identified as apolitical, and one (2%) identified as moderate consersative. This question also had an “Other” option where people could be more specific about where they stand politically, which is where the “apolitical” and “Leftist” options were written.
In state, out of state, or international students
Out of state students 15.7%
In state students 84.3%
The State News believes in the importance of hearing from multiple, diverse sources. After each interview, reporters are expected to ask each source a few demographic questions to better understand who our sources are. By engaging with our sources in this fashion, we’re able to be more conscientious about the people we are interviewing and make more of an effort to hear from a variety of voices. This semester, there were 203 sources accounted for. All questions are optional for sources to answer, so some numbers may not add up to 203.
AGE IN SOURCING
The State News is made up of 11 (21.6%) first generation students, down from 14 (28.6%) from last spring. Our staff is composed of 43 (84.3%) in-state students and eight (15.7%) out-of-state students.
Are you a first generation college student?
Just over half of our sources were between the ages of 18-21, with 95 sources falling within that age group. We spoke to people under the age of 18 and people 60 years and older the least. These demographics made up just 4.3% of our sources.
RACE/ETHNICITY IN SOURCING
According to the form submissions, 123 of our sources self-identify as white, or 69.1%. From then on, our most spoken to sources identified as Asian or Asian American (15.2%), Hispanic or Latinx (7.3%), and Black (6.7%).
GENDER IDENTIFICATION IN SOURCING
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Exactly 100 of interviewed sources identified as cisgender females. This accounted for 54.1% of the responses to this question. From there, 66 identified as cisgender males, 11 identified as non-binary, and three identified as transgender females. Four sources either preferred not to answer or were unsure how to answer. The State News having a majority of cisgender female staffers could be part of the reason more cisgender females are interviewed by reporters.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION IN SOURCING
For sexual orientation 133 (76.4%) sources identified as straight or heterosexual, 15 (8.6) identified as bisexual, seven (4%) preferred not to answer, five (2.9%) identified as gay or lesbian, six (3.4%) identified as queer, four (2.3%) identified as pansexual, two (1.1.%) identified as asexual, one (0.6%) was not sure how to answer, and one (0.6%) identified as asexual panromantic. Of these sources, 128 (65%) were MSU students while 69 (35%) were not MSU students. Of the 128 MSU students, first, second, third and fourth year students were represented in close proportion, with each group having between 25-28 interviews. Seventeen (13%) were graduate students. Six (4.6%) were in their fifth year or more of earning their undergraduate degree.
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Vol. 112 | No. 9
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2021 EDITOR-INCHIEF Karly Graham
CULTURE EDITOR Dina Kaur
MANAGING EDITOR Jayna Bardahl
SPORTS EDITOR Eli McKown
COPY CHIEF SaMya Overall CAMPUS EDITOR Wendy Guzman
MULTIMEDIA EDITORS Devin AndersonTorrez, Chandra Fleming DESIGN Maddie Monroe
CITY EDITOR Griffin Wiles
NEWSROOM/CORRECTIONS (517) 295-5149 firstname.lastname@example.org GENERAL MANAGER Christopher Richert ADVERTISING M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The State News is published by the students of Michigan State University every other Tuesday during the academic year. News is updated seven days a week at statenews.com. State News Inc. is a private, nonprofit corporation. Its current 990 tax form is available for review upon request at 435 E. Grand River Ave. during business hours.
The Michigan State Spartans scored a win against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 27. With a score 30-27, the Spartans secured an undefeated season at home. Photo by Chloe Trofatter
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One copy of this newspaper is available free of charge to any member of the MSU community. Additional copies $0.75 at the business office only. Copyright © 2021 State News Inc., East Lansing, Michigan
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‘Confidence comes and goes throughout life’: MSU students reflect on their growth in confidence By Mariam Hanna firstname.lastname@example.org
The four years in college are said to be the best years of your life. The accuracy of this cliché is often debated, but regardless, many students can attest to their self-confidence playing a large role in their college experience. Dietetics and neurology senior Rachael Stohlin said it was significantly more challenging to make good memories during the parts of her college career in which she didn’t feel confident. “I hope that college students make an effort to really build this part of their life because I think going through college without confidence really leads you to miss out on a lot during these years,” Stohlin said. “Just being able to make more memories, be happier with the work you did at the end of the day, and all-around, it’s a more positive experience in college.” Throughout her life, Stohlin said her self-confidence has been somewhat of a roller coaster. She hit lows in high school before finally finding a sense of satisfaction in her freshman year of college. But that was short-lived. Her self-confidence reached an all-time low in her third year at MSU. “I was just like, ‘I can’t – we’re not doing this anymore. We’re turning this around,’” Stohlin said. “Very ironically, that mind frame shift happened right when COVID hit, so then I was able to use that remote set up to do a lot of introspection and thinking. … Coming out of my third year and going into my fourth, I was back where I was in the first year. I was thriving again, which was very nice.” The transition to college can also bring about hardship with no longer being surrounded by loved ones to motivate, validate and support you. Director of Human Resources for the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, Kobi Sunday highlighted the need to find confidence within oneself. “You obviously want support structures, but it makes you codependent on them,” Sunday said. “If they’re not able to give you the confidence – they’re 4
struggling in life or they don’t understand what you need – it means that you won’t be able to do the things that you need to do to go through life.” Since becoming a math undergraduate learning assistant, mathematics education junior Aubrey Vellmure has gained confidence in her ability to instruct a college-level class. “My first week when I did that (taught), it was kind of stressful because it was all people … really close to my age group that I had to go up in front of and be like ‘Oh, I’m good enough at math to be teaching this to you,’” she said. In his role in human resources, Sunday is heavily involved with the hiring process at ASMSU. He explained that he has talked to many interviewees who have the same feelings that Vellmure once did. “It’s interesting because someone who will be by far the most accomplished person, someone we think is going to be the instant mark for the job, will come in and they’ll seem super unconfident in themselves,” Sunday said.” They seem like they don’t feel like they fit in or that it’s a super big, long shot or something like that.” Moreover, Sunday has witnessed and experienced feelings of being a fraud in social settings. Sunday noted this is especially prevalent in his graduating class, the class of 2024, because the pandemic forced them to start college virtually. “They spent so much time vir-
“At some point in my life, I was insecure about my own music taste. The stuff that I enjoyed, for some reason, I didn’t feel like that’s what I should enjoy.”
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Rachael Stohlin Dietetics and neurology senior
tually or quarantined in their house, and it’s hard to really connect with people in a social way anymore without feeling a lot of anxiety and overthinking what you’re doing,” Sunday said. Sunday admits he still deals with his own imposter syndrome. According to Healthline, imposter syndrome is defined as “feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience and accomplishments.” Imposter syndrome is another thing that may influence confidence, especially in college students. “As I’ve grown, I’ve tried to have the mindset that I’m in the position that I am and that people invited me to things for a reason,” Sunday said. “Even if I can’t see it, there is a reason.” Since 2019, Stohlin has worked with body-positive groups on campus. Under the surveillance of MSU dietitians, she has led discussion groups that talk about the evolution and foundation of beauty standards, body image and body confidence. “Going into leading those groups was one of the times of my life when I was so lacking in confidence regarding my appearance, so I always thought it was kind of ironic that I was leading one of these,” Stohlin said. “Then, coming out of that, it was a totally different experience where I no longer had as much of an insecurity about who I was.” When humanities-prelaw freshman Amber Autrey was in high school, she believed her social life had extreme importance in the grand scheme of things. “I didn’t have much confidence in high school,” Autrey said. “I hung out with a smaller group. It was just me and two other people, and I was always anxious that if I lost them as my friends I wouldn’t really have other people to hang out with, so I was very much conscious of what I did and how I acted. I wasn’t really confident in who I really was.” When Autrey got to college, she realized she was finally able to put her true self on display. “High school, now, seems so
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Students were asked what about themselves they were most confident in. Photo illustration by Lauren Snyder
“High school, now, seems so far gone and insignificant to who I really am.” Amber Autrey
Humanitiesprelaw freshman far gone and insignificant to who I really am,” she said. “If I find myself getting insecure in myself, I just think I’m going to graduate from college and I’m going to look back at it and I’m gonna be like ‘College isn’t really important socially.’ I just remind myself that in hindsight, I’ll be fine — just act how I want to act.” Not everyone undergoes a sudden increase in confidence once transitioning to college, however. Managing such a major change in academic, social and personal life can sometimes cause a decline in confidence, as was the case for biochemistry and molecular biology senior Maddison Ford. “Once I got to college, (my confidence) kind of dipped a little bit, especially for the first year,” Ford said. “I was not sure what to do. There were a lot of new people trying to do a lot of new things. Also at that time, you’re kind of comparing yourself to everybody. Your self-image goes down, and you’re trying to build yourself up.” The desire to fit in is quite common, especially during teenage years. Oftentimes, this is associated with appearance or personality. However, people can struggle with a myriad
of insecurities, causing them to change minuscule parts of their identities to fit in. “At some point in my life, I was insecure about my own music taste,” Stohlin said. “The stuff that I enjoyed, for some reason, I didn’t feel like that’s what I should enjoy.” Another common source of insecurity for some is their cultural background. In addition to his work with ASMSU, Sunday is the treasurer of MSU’s Asian Pacific American Student Organization where he does work around ensuring that people are confident and positive in their culture. “If you feel like you have to withhold something from the people around you, it’s nearly impossible to be confident,” Sunday said. “Whether that’s what food you like to eat, how you like to dress, what pronouns you use, where you come from, feeling like you have to lie about it or downplay something that’s really important to you affects your confidence.” People can easily act and be confident in front of large groups or gatherings of friends, but when they are alone behind closed doors, it can be a different story. Vellmure was one of these people. “I’m so much more comfortable just sitting by myself and having lunch or going somewhere or getting my groceries by myself,” she said. “I’m so much more confident by myself because you just get so used to it in college.” Recently, Stohlin came across a quote by author Glennon Doyle that resonated with her: “I will not stay, not ever again — in a room or conversation or relationship or institution that requires me to
abandon myself.” “I think that’s essentially what I’ve been practicing in recent years where if I find myself doing something that does not align with what I think I am, then I just totally pull myself from that because, at that point, it’s not benefiting me in a way,” Stohlin said. Along with all the personal advantages of having self-confidence is how the positive energy radiates to other people. “I think if a person is more confident in who they are and in their abilities and their strengths, then I feel like they can radiate a little bit and help bring light to other people’s days,” Ford said. Ford urges individuals to not be too let down by a dip in confidence. “I just think it’s important to recognize everyone is in different stages of their life, and I think that confidence comes and goes throughout life,” Ford said. “I don’t think that once someone becomes confident, they’re always going to be confident, but just keep working at yourself.” Although it can sometimes be difficult to see, each and every person on this planet has strengths that they should place their faith in, Sunday said. “You have something to bring to the table, whether it’s socially, professionally, academically, all that jazz,” Sunday said. “You just have something to bring to the table everywhere, so be confident in yourself. Sit down at the table, voice yourself and who you are and be true to yourself.”
Kenneth Walker III overlooked for Heisman despite dazzling East Lansing all season By Sam Sklar email@example.com Nobody thought he would be this good. Just like many other things. Nobody thought Michigan State would be 10-2 with a New Year’s Six Bowl on the horizon. Even as he began to turn heads of teammates and coaches in the early spring, nobody thought he would be THAT good. Nobody knew the instant fan-favorite in East Lansing would be junior running back Kenneth Walker III. “I am a big fan of Kenneth,” redshirt senior linebacker Noah Harvey said leading up to Michigan State’s 2021 Spring Game. “In our winter conditioning, he was winning every single drill. He’s got a crazy motor. He’s a hard working kid, and I appreciate that. It stands out, and we are very grateful to have him.” And there he sat on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at the podium in the Spartan Stadium Media Center three days before MSU opened the season at Northwestern. Nobody, absolutely nobody, knew what was coming. When Walker took the very first carry of the season 75 yards for a touchdown, Michigan State fans realized something: This kid was going to be special. Fast forward to now, Walker continued his excellence following the 264 yard, four touchdown performance versus Northwestern. With the regular season over, he racked up 1,636 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in 12 games. Walker ranks first in the country in yards after contact (1,154), 20+ yard carries (21) and forced missed tackles (89), and ranks second in the country in rushing yards per
Kenneth Walker III hurdles a Western Kentucky defender on his way to the end zone during the Spartans’ homecoming game on Oct. 2. Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez
Junior running back Kenneth Walker III finds room to run near the sideline during the Spartans game against Northwestern. MSU won at Ryan Field 38-21, on Sept. 3. Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez
game (136.3) and total rushing yards (1,636). The highlight plays are endless, but nothing outclasses his 197 yard, five-touchdown show he put on in front of millions as MSU came back from a 16-point deficit to defeat Michigan. “Every time he touches the ball, he’s got a chance to do something special,” Michigan State football Head Coach Mel Tucker said after defeating Michigan. “When you have a guy like that, the offensive line they’re going to strain, they’re going to finish and they’re going to believe. The tight ends and receivers, they are going to strain. They’re going to block, but t hey know that he can pop one at any moment.” However, it has not been easy nor has it been smooth sailing. Coming in as a transfer from Wake Forest, Walker was looking for a new beginning — a fit and scheme that Mel Tucker would work better for Michigan State football Head Coach him. Similar to what a lot of transfers look for in a new school; a new beginning. For some, it works out for the better. For others, it doesn’t. “Even from the start when I got here, everyone was really wel-
“Every time he touches the ball, he’s got a chance to do something special.”
coming,” Walker said. “They took me in as a brother and it’s been very inviting.” As Walker and the Spartans headed to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State for a chance to reach the Big Ten Championship Game, Walker was already cemented as a consensus Heisman Trophy candidate. All he had to do was continue what he had been doing. But, the game was a disaster. Not just for him, but for the entire team in every possible aspect. It was a systematic dismantling by Ohio State that was over before many fans settled into their couches. Walker, who Tucker revealed after the game was battling an injury, carried the ball just six times for 25 yards. It was exactly what could not happen: a dud. To make matters worse, fellow Heisman Trophy candidate and freshman sensation quarterback CJ Stroud stood on the opposing sideline. He picked the MSU defense apart for 432 passing yards and six touchdown passes, elevating himself in the Heisman race while Walker could only stand there and watch. If he wanted to still be in consideration for college football’s most coveted individual award, he would need to bounce-back. He needed another stupendous performance versus Penn State in his last showcase before the final votes were made. But, he still had this mysterious injury that put his availability in question. And then another obstacle hit: the flu. Walker was one of the players battling flu-like symptoms during the week, and got a specific shoutout from redshirt sophomore quarterback Payton Thorne for battling hard.
“In our winter conditioning, he was winning every single drill. He’s got a crazy motor. He’s a hard working kid, and I appreciate that. It stands out, and we are very grateful to have him.”
“I don’t think I was going to sit out at all,” Walker said. “I had my mind made up that I was playing either way. This is the last game and I wanted to play with my brothers one last time.” And then the snow hit, just to make the Heisman hill tougher to climb. Walker had never played in the snow before, so he had to adjust to the slick environment that made it even harder to perform his signature mesmerizing cutbacks. Like he had a l l y e a r, Wa l ker rebounded with 138 yards and a touchdow n, helping secure MSU’s Noah Harvey tenth v ictor y. He Redshirt senior had the determinalinebacker tion and the will, and lived up to the expectation. But despite the comeback, it was not enough. Walker’s name was left off the list of the four finalists for the Heisman Trophy on Dec. 6. Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Stroud rounded out the list instead. T he Heisman Trophy w inner w ill be announced on Saturday, Dec. 11.
Michigan State to play Pittsburgh in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl By Jared Ramsey firstname.lastname@example.org Kenneth Walker III celebrates after the Spartans raced back from a 16-point deficit to beat the Wolverines on Oct. 30. Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez
Michigan State was selected to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl to take on Pittsburgh on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. It is Michigan State’s first appearance in a New Year’s Six Bowl game since losing to Alabama in the College Football Playoff in 2015. Michigan State Head Coach Mel Tucker and the Spartans are back
in a primetime bowl game after MSU’s unthinkable turnaround this year, finishing with a 10-2 record, including a win over No. 2 Michigan. Michigan State will have a chance to reach 11 wins for the first time since 2015. Michigan State will play Pittsburgh for the first time since 2007, when the Spartans took down former running back LeSean McCoy and the Panthers in former head coach Mark Dantonio’s
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third game in charge. The Panthers finished the year 11-2 and won the ACC. Pitt is led by former MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who coached with Dantonio from 2007 to 2014. Pittsburgh has one of the most prolific offenses in the country with redshirt senior quarterback Kenny Pickett along with a defense that loves to use exotic blitzes to pressure and confuse the quarterback.
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Kenneth Walker III should have been a Heisman Trophy finalist By The State News Editorial Board email@example.com In our years here at Michigan State, none of us expected a potential Heisman Trophy candidate to emerge after seasons of dismal Michigan State football offenses. Yet, here we are. Since his first snap as a Spartan, junior running back Kenneth Walker III set the college football world ablaze. Without him, the Spartans likely weren’t a 10-win squad possessing one of the biggest turnarounds in the country. This season, Walker leads the nation in rushing yards after contact (1,154), missed forced tackles (89) and in 20+ yard gains on the ground (21). In addition, Walker is second in total rushing yards (1,636) in the Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS, only trailing Central Michigan freshman Lew Nichols III and is fourth in total touchdowns (19). Not to mention, Walker is also second in rushing yards per game (136.3) and eighth in all-purpose yards (143.8 yards per game). Because of Walker’s brilliance this season, The State News believes Kenneth Walker III should not only have been a Heisman finalist, but should have won the whole thing. We know, we’re biased. We’ve watched Walker
from our couches, or in Spartan Stadium all season long, and who wouldn’t want someone from their university to win one of the biggest trophies in football? However, the stats speak for themselves and they line up with the previous two Heisman winners that were running backs in Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram. Henry, one of the most dominant running backs in college football history, only has about 161 yards on Walker in the same amount of games and four more touchdowns. Through 12 games, Ingram trails Walker by 207 yards and six touchdowns. The athletes around you can change the entire narrative — but Walker still has the edge here too. Ohio State freshman quarterback CJ Stroud and Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young have been brilliant in their own right. Stroud even took down Walker when their teams went head-to-head. However, neither of them lead any of the major passing categories in the FBS and trail the leaders at the top by a wide margin. While Young is tied for second in passing touchdowns, he is 12 touchdowns behind Western Kentucky’s graduate quarterback Bailey Zappe. Stats don’t paint the entire picture though, nor should they. Narratives and stories matter.
Walker has had his fair share of moments though, too. Whether it was his first run as a Spartan against Northwestern, his 94-yard run against Rutgers, his five-touchdown performance to bring the Spartans back against their rival Michigan or playing through injuries and the flu against Penn State, Walker flashed brilliance game after game. Stroud and Young have an argument for the Heisman, sure. Defensive players like Michigan senior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and Alabama sophomore linebacker Will Anderson deserve some consideration on the defensive side of the ball as well. Each of them, except for Stroud, will also get the chance to do something Walker won’t be able to do — win a championship. But at the end of the day, there’s not a single player on a roster in college football that has meant as much to a team as Kenneth Walker III does to Michigan State. Stroud and Young are not even the best players on their own offenses while Walker single-handedly carried the Michigan State offense to success. So much so that head coach Mel Tucker and MSU offensive coordinator Jay Johnson implemented the infamous flea flicker as a part of the offense rather than a gimmick — and it worked due to how much opposing defenses had to commit to stopping Walker.
Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III (9) turns towards the crowd during Michigan State’s loss to Ohio State on Nov. 20. Photo by Rahmya Trewern
If a flea flicker is a part of your offense because of one sole player’s impact, that alone should be enough to win the Heisman. We may not have a vote in the Heisman race, but we wanted to make our stance clear. Kenneth Walker III should have been this year’s Heisman winner. The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Karly Graham, Managing Editor Jayna Bardahl, Campus Editor Wendy Guzman, City Editor Griffin Wiles, Culture Editor Dina Kaur, Sports Editor Eli McKown, Multimedia Editors Chandra Fleming and Devin Anderson-Torrez, Copy Chief SaMya Overall, Social Media Manager Jillie Gretzinger, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Tessa Jazwinski and Staff Rep. Morgan Womack.
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T HE STAT E NEWS
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S POT L I G H T
FALL 2021: SEMESTER IN REVIEW By Morgan Womack Mwomack@statenews.com For the first time since spring 2020, students and faculty returned to Michigan State’s campus this fall. With the return, the community navigated a “new normal” amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic while returning back to some coveted Spartan traditions along the way. Here’s a recap of the semester’s biggest events and storylines.
BACK ON CAMPUS
Spartans returned to campus for in-person classes on Sept. 1 with the largest freshman class on record of about 9,200 students. COVID-19 directives, including wearing masks indoors and mandating the vaccine, were implemented to keep the MSU community safe.
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR ALAN HALLER REPLACES BILL BEEKMAN
Bill Beekman was replaced by Alan Haller as Michigan State’s athletic director, whose promotion was unanimously approved at a virtual Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 1. Some trustee members were concerned about the transparency of the hiring process, calling for more openness in future searches.
RESIDENT ASSISTANTS PUSH BACK AGAINST ARMED ROUND TRAINING
Resident assistants completed a training through the Michigan State University Police Department from Aug. 15 to Aug. 25. At the training, RAs learned about initiatives to hold armed rounds in the dorms. Armed rounds have not been done previously and none were conducted after the training. Some RAs pushed back, creating jamboards expressing concerns about the presence of guns. Administration said police presence is common in dorms in order to encourage community between students and officers as well as safety.
RESULTS OF STAFFING SHORTAGES
Staffing shortages in Residential and Hospitality Services caused closures and shortened hours in residential and dining halls along with Sparty’s locations. Faculty were asked to volunteer in dining halls to make up for the shortages. The closures were met with petitions and complaints from faculty, parents and students.
ADVOCACY IN NASSAR INVESTIGATION
Sister survivors testified against the FBI’s handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Sept. 15. In their statements, they advocated for change in policy to create more appropriate and sympathetic investigations for survivors of sexual assault. During another Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held Oct. 5, there were confirmed changes being made to strengthen FBI policy. Survivors from the University of Michigan and Michigan State also testified before the House Oversight Committee on Sept. 30 in favor of a legislative package to make it easier for sexual assault survivors to report.
REPEALING THE TAMPON TAX
The House of Representatives discussed repealing the state’s 6% sales tax on menstrual products on Oct. 14. Two bills with bipartisan support were passed to amend Michigan’s tax code and to allow menstruation products to be legally considered necessities.
“The reasons for abortion are as varied and unique as the people themselves - and they’re all valid,” Dr. Halley Crissman, OBGYN and member of Physicians for Reproductive health, said Oct. 2. Photo by Chloe Trofatter
Protesters sit inside the Board of Trustees office inside of the Hannah Administration Building at a Die In protest held by the Graduate Employees Union on Oct. 21. The protest demanded safe working conditions and transparency from the university, in relation to COVID-19 safety precautions on campus. Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez
THE FIRST FALL BREAK
MSU held its first fall break this year from Oct. 25-26 after its original proposal by Associated Students of MSU in February 2019. It will now become a permanent part of the academic calendar, taking place around the middle of the semester on a Monday and Tuesday.
AFTERMATH OF RIVALRY FOOTBALL GAME
Head coach Mel Tucker watches the field during the Spartans’ 37-33 win against the Wolverines on Oct. 30. Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez
Michigan State football defeated the University of Michigan 37-33 at this year’s game on Oct. 30. Both teams came into the match undefeated and ranked in the top 10. MSU’s win, carried by junior running back Kenneth Walker III’s five touchdowns, was celebrated with couch burning at Cedar Village. The destruction continued with multiple fires and flipped vehicles. At least one student was arrested on the scene.
A lit candle was held at the vigil in remembrance of Phat Nguyen on Nov. 29, at the Minskoff Pavillion. Photo by Lauren Snyder
SEARCH FOR BRENDAN SANTO BEGINS
MSU women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant reached her 500th career win after a 73-62 win against Valparaiso on Nov. 16. Merchant also secured her 300th win at MSU on Nov. 20, making her the second women’s basketball coach to accomplish this.
CITY COUNCIL ELECTION RESULTS
MSU’s police department reported 18-yearold Brendan Santo was missing and last seen on Oct. 29. Search efforts, including FBI and various dive teams involvement, have continued throughout the semester. Santo’s family asked the public to aid in the search and raised the reward for information to $20,000.
Incumbents Dana Watson and Ron Bacon and new-elect George Brookover were elected to fill three city council positions on Nov. 2. Watson and Brookover will serve in four-year terms while Bacon will serve a two-year term. Bacon was sworn in as the first Black mayor of East Lansing during a city council meeting on Nov. 9.
PROTESTS, SUSPENSIONS RISE AGAINST FRATERNITY LIFE
Protestors gathered outside of Delta Kappa Epsilon on Nov. 3 to advocate for more accountability in fraternity culture. The fraternity was placed under interim suspension due to allegations of misconduct. The Pi Alpha Phi fraternity was suspended on Nov. 24 following MSU student Phat Nguyen’s death. The East Lansing Police Department began its investigation of the off-campus death on Nov. 20 and said alcohol consumption may have played a role in the incident.
Nguyen was remembered at a candlelight vigil on Nov. 29. Speakers from various student organizations shared memories and stories in his honor.
SUZY MERCHANT REACHES CAREER MILESTONE
TUCKER’S CONTRACT EXTENSION
MSU head football coach Mel Tucker signed a 10-year contract extension on Nov. 24. Benefits of this contract include a $5.9 million base salary and supplemental income from media appearances and advertising. This totals to $95 million over 10 years. Tucker was also named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the 2021 season on Nov. 30, following the Spartans’ 10-2 record and third place finish in the Big Ten East.
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