EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — We’re less than a month away from the November election and we continue our series focusing on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees. We are introducing you to the candidates.
Kiyerra Lake sat down with Dr. Rema Vassar who explains why she believes she deserves your vote.
Vassar said she’s an educator and not a politician and, “I think I’m the right person at the right time. All of my experiences, but more importantly my passion for education, I think this is what the board needs right now.”
Vassar has been a kindergarten through 12th-grade teacher, counselor, and principal, but her background doesn’t stop there.
“I’ve been in higher education from 2003 until now,” she added. “I teach at Eastern Michigan University. I’m an Associate Professor in the leadership department.”
Now, she wants to be a part of the Spartan community. Her goals include tackling challenges due to COVID-19 without raising tuition and fees for students.
“This has been traumatic,” Vassar said. “The added trauma of trying to figure out how you send your baby to college is not, we’re not doing that. We’re not doing that.”
Vassar also said, “Fiscally it’s a strain when you make a decision to not have students come back to campus, which was actually best for the students, the staff, and their families right, the faculty. That was the safest decision in my opinion.
Vassar said MSU’s President put people before the institution, which she thought was really important.
She also said she’s been in listening sessions with MSU faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and students. She said she did this because you can’t lead people you don’t know.
“I’m really thinking about what they’ve told me, not what I think I know about them, what I think I know to be true, what I think is best, but what they’ve literally said in relationship with me about what is necessary at MSU,” said Vassar. “So, I want to lift their voices in that board room.”
As a trustee, she said she would focus on building trust and accountability. “How do people feel safe and that they belong on campus again from the faculty to the students. How are we making sure that people feel like they, ya know, have a place and that they’re going to be secure.”
Vassar said her need to help out the Spartan community is personal. Her daughter is a junior at MSU and her husband is a two-time MSU alum and, “They both really bleed green and white. seriously.”
Vassar says even though they were at Michigan State during different times, she said her husband and daughter are having similar experiences on campus and it’s time to see a change.
“Even though he was there in the 80’s right, some of the issues that he experienced around racism are still pretty prevalent at Michigan State,” she said. “So, there’s lots of work to do.”
Vassar is up against Democratic candidate and incumbent Brian Mosallam and two Republicans, Pat O’Keefe and Tonya Schuitmaker.
Vassar said, “If we all want to see a better world, we need to improve our schools and so I’m wholeheartedly committed to that in ways that I think most politicians would not even think to do.”