It can be really easy to take issue with college students, especially student sections. There is often a sense that current students aren’t supporting the program in the “right” way.
And then they do something that should make everyone proud.
Michigan State University currently finds itself at one of its lowest points the school has ever seen. With former school doctor Larry Nassar’s sentencing now over, much of the focus turns to what MSU officials did, or didn’t do, to help the more than 190 alleged victims.
President Lou Anna K. Simon has already stepped down, with much of the Board of Trustees under pressure to do the same. Even with the focus of the nation on East Lansing, the university has been too slow to act, in the opinion of some. The statements coming from those in positions of power, including Tom Izzo, have done nothing to help.
With all of that in mind, its important to acknowledge what the students at MSU are doing. Shortly after Nassar was sentenced, there was a groundswell by leaders of the Izzone student section to show their support for the victims.
The Spartans play their first game after the sentencing at home on Friday. During that game, much of the lower bowl student section wont be clad in the traditional white Izzone shirts, or anything green and white for that matter. Instead, students will be wearing teal shirts, the color of sexual assault awareness.
It’s official Izzone members!! We will have 1500 teal shirts provided for all the lower bowl Izzone members at tomorrow’s game. They will be passed out outside the student entrance by volunteers who will also be collecting donations for local charities. pic.twitter.com/Q4lv9PlED6— Casey Copp (@CaseyCopp) January 25, 2018
In addition to showing their support during MSU’s game against Wisconsin, the Izzone has launched a GoFundMe to raise money for local charities. With a goal of $1500, the equivalent of the total number of students in the lower bowl, the Izzone has already raised nearly $1300 as of late Thursday night. The money will be divided between Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Team of MSU and the Firecracker Foundation.
From the GoFundMe page:
“The members of the IZZONE, Michigan State basketball’s student section, would like to show our solidarity with the victims of sexual assault. We hope to raise money to donate to local charities that work to promote awareness and healing for sexual assault survivors. In the wake of the university’s failure to properly address sexual assault issues in the wake of the recent Nassar scandal and in addition to our showing of solidarity for the victims by wearing teal to our next home game (This Friday 1/26), the color of sexual assault awareness, we the students wish to gather monetary support for local foundations.”
Izzone section leader Casey Copp said the idea came about as he and other section leaders talked. Copp said after a failed response by the university, the student section kicked around various ideas as to how they could help, including teal ribbons or specific chants. In the end, they decided on teal shirts.
“A couple of us tweeted about it and we were totally blown away by how much response we were getting about it,” Copp said. “Personally I had a [f]ew t-shirt company people and alumni asking what they could do. Long story short, we got a couple guys to front the bill for the 1500 t-shirts that were offered to us at a massive discount by Underground Printing.
“Riding the wave, we decided to start a GoFundMe to try to use our 15 minutes of fame here to the best good we could do. Ultimately we want to show people that the students of MSU want to make a positive impact on sexual assault awareness, prevention, and healing where we feel others associated with the university have failed to do.”
In the end, this entire effort – the show of support, the money raised – was a student effort. Like the State News leading the charge asking for Simon’s resignation, the students in the Izzone will take steps in ways the rest of the athletic department failed.
“This was an amazing effort from all of the Izzone section leaders,” section leader Sarah Albus said. “And the support from the community was incredible. I am amazed that we were able to pull this together on such short notice.”
What happens Friday won’t come anywhere near making up for the awful things the university allegedly failed to stop. But it can be a start. And if nothing else, we should all hope that the nearly 200 alleged victims know that they have 1500 supporters in East Lansing and thousands more across the country wearing teal in solidarity.