Thursday, April 24 — The State News, “Michigan State University’s Independent Voice Since 1909,” editorialized against MSU Board of Trustees Chairman Joel Ferguson this week over comments he made about laughing at student protests of tuition hikes.
MSU Students United, a campus student group, has petitioned the Board of Trustees to freeze tuition rates. Ferguson told The State News that the board would not recognize the more than 3,000 signatures gathered as of Monday. On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously — and reportedly without public discussion — to increase room and board fees by 3.95 percent.
The State News reported that, during the meeting, Ferguson said: “I got a call from The State News last night and they wanted me to comment about students who were going to picket our meeting and protest about tuition and I can’t help myself, but I couldn’t laugh candid.”
Ferguson then suggested the students protest at the state Capitol.
“Although there have indeed been recent cuts to state funding in higher education, this response is incredibly inappropriate for an elected official, especially one whose purpose is to make decisions to benefit the university and students,” The State News editorialized Wednesday.
The paper didn’t take issue with the room and board increase, saying “the main problem is that one of the highest officials at MSU openly laughed at the efforts of students who wanted their voices to be heard.
“At MSU, we are encouraged to be critical thinkers, form our own opinions and speak our minds. Unless, apparently, it is against the university itself.”
The paper went on: “If Ferguson is going to ignore the opinions of more than 3,000 students, we should ignore him as well the next time we head to the polls. It is just a shame his seat will not be up for vote until 2021.”
Ferguson is also a well-known Lansing-based developer who is part of the team redeveloping the vacant Red Cedar Golf Course.