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I am a proud graduate of Michigan State University (James Madison College, 1972). And, my respect and support for this great university is unwavering in spite of lapses, mistakes, and setbacks, because I know that MSU always strives to improve and to be better, and to be a positive and progressive leader in every respect. The MSU website proudly states “At MSU, we believe our differences are our strength. Diversity is power.
Building inclusive communities is at the core of our values.” No one can legitimately argue against the value and importance of diversity, and it makes sense that MSU embraces this important guiding principle. So, how is it that the 19 member selection committee for a new president lacks any representation from the Latino community, (i.e. Chicano, Latino, Hispanic…). This contradicts the statements made in forming the committee that it would be “inclusive, diverse and representative of the broader MSU stakeholders”. I cannot dispute the qualifications of the individuals currently on this important committee. But, there are many very well qualified and distinguished Latino faculty members and administrators at MSU, men and women that would be excellent resources to this process. Just as there are many capable Latino business, professional and political leaders, as well as many Latino advocacy organizations, throughout this great state, that can provide meaningful and important input to this process. And, from a credibility standpoint, having Latino representation is even more critical in light of the committee’s decision to keep its deliberations closed to the public. Latinos deserve and should expect a seat at this table. If this is just an oversight, it can and should be corrected immediately. Otherwise, it seems to me, it is a mistake that we may all suffer from for a long time. MSU can and must do better. Please do not make this a lost opportunity!
Santiago Rios (The writer is the founding chairman of the Capitol Area Cesar E. Chavez Commission.)