It’s a race you might not normally think about when casting your ballot, but it’s getting an unusual amount of attention this year.
The race for Michigan State University trustee has more eyes on it in the 2018 election, due in part to the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
Ten candidates are vying for two seats and your vote. The winning candidates will replace Trustees Brian Breslin and Mitch Lyons, who opted not to seek another term.
One of the candidates is attorney Brianna Scott.
“Michigan state is in a time of chaos, and a very historic time to actually be able to affect some change, to come out of this even better than they were before,” she said. “And I feel that my unique qualifications are going to allow me as a board of trustee member to really help.”
A major part of those qualifications, Scott says, is her previous role as a prosecutor in West Michigan’s Muskegon County.
“I believe I’m the only person who is going to be on the ballot in November who has the criminal background as being a prosecutor, working with victims of criminal sexual conduct cases,” she said. “Being an advocate, guardian ad litem attorney with kids that have been abused and neglected.”
As for the current board’s handling of the Nassar scandal, while Scott says they’ve improved, they should have been more empathetic to Nassar’s victims from the beginning. And there are other decisions she says she wouldn’t have made.
“In hiring of John Engler, I think it was a political move that was made that, in some way, polarized this campus,” she said. “And I think that it’s unfortunate that many feel so strongly about his removal that it’s caused a lot of friction between our faculty and staff, the student population and the board of trustees.”
Speaking of Engler, Scott says he should have stepped down when many on campus, including Trustees Brian Mosallam and Dianne Byrum, called for him to. But she added at this point, it’s too late.
“Is the timing right now to not only find our new leader, to lead us forward, but also to try to find another person as an interim president?” she said. “I think we would be stretching our resources very thin as a university, and may really be shooting ourselves in the foot to try to do both at the same time.”
Scott also has a clear list of qualities she feels a new president should have.
“Someone that understands where Michigan State is right now, and i don’t believe that necessarily means the person comes from within.” she said. “We have to have a person that is compassionate. who has the decorum and the temperament to be respectful at all times, that’s got experience leading a big institution like Michigan State.”
And there are several changes Scott would like to see at the board level, especially when it comes to transparency.
“Going into the dorms and talking to our students. Going into the departments and talking with our faculty and staff. Engaging with them. Talking about where we’re at and where we plan to go,” she said. “I think it wouldn’t hurt to do a survey to know what their concerns are so that we can know where we’re starting from and where we need to proceed to.”
She also proposes significant changes to how MSU handles sexual assaults, ss well as education on the issue.
“Making sure that we have victim advocates that are identified and immediately set up with a person who has been victimized, that will lead them through this process,” she said.
“We have to have bystander training so people that are seeing things understand what they should do and how to report. I’d love to have a class that freshman have to take where it teaches about sexual assaults, teaches about binge drinking. They’ve got to pass this class their first semester before they can even enroll the following semester.”
Scott also touched on tuition, saying she’d like to see a tuition freeze for all grade levels. She also proposes significant tuition rate changes for students under certain economic levels.
“If we have a family income level that is below $70,000, I believe these students should be able to attend MSU for free,” she said.
The election is November 6. 6 News is Your Local Election Headquarters, both on air and online.