A Message to Our Friends at The University of Michigan:
We are truly grateful to be a part of this Michigan State community and are, by and large, proud of how we conduct ourselves and interact with other fan bases.
Individuals rightly have responsibility for their actions as individuals, but they are also tied to the communities they associate with or represent — for better or worse. We all need to be reminded of this when we vent frustration on comment boards in unproductive or unfair ways. Even though we might err sometimes, we have all agreed to help bring each other back to sanity and decorum; back to the place where this community agrees our language and our discourse ought to be.
Any time members of our community enter into discussions about values/morals and our approach to ethical investigation, we must do so in a deliberate manner. We must ensure that we are who we say we are; that we represent what we say we represent.
Taking responsibility for our discourse ensures we don’t deceive ourselves about who we are. It is this kind of self-deception – when people say they mean or care about one thing and then act or speak in a way that undermines that professed identity — that plagues much of American discourse in politics, social issues, and, in our case, any and all things touching on sports.
It is challenging to hold ourselves to a high standard, but it is important that we do so because the passion and love we have for our team inevitably leads to antipathies. In the case of Michigan State, the leading antagonist, and chief source of antipathy, is obviously the University of Michigan. In every fan-base there are the people we love to claim and those that we wish would just move along to another school. There are those who make us proud to be Spartans, and those whom we would prefer to never hear from again. I’m sure the same is true for the Wolverines.
In recent years, there have been jarring breakdowns in discourse between the two fan bases, much of it precipitated by “off-field” events, reactions to those events, and reactions to those reactions. In particular, the Larry Nassar scandal and ESPN’s reporting around Title IX at MSU. It’s been a tough few years to be a Spartan. We’ve had to wade through some very difficult subjects as a community while our leaders continually let us down. But we’ve had each other’s backs, we haven’t given up, and we’ve tried our best to put the focus where it belongs – on how we can support the survivors, the victims, and those who were hurt by members of our university.
Through all of these events we have been proud of the MSU community and The Only Colors, as a community, because of our efforts to maintain the hallmarks of healthy discourse, and our serious, thoughtful, and honest reflection on our self-understandings (as individuals and as a community). Much of the breakdown of the discourse around these events have occurred because of specific individuals who have approached these topics in reprehensible ways.
In light of the recent reporting and revelation of allegations of sexual abuse on the University of Michigan campus, we – as a community – are committed to holding ourselves accountable and not returning vindictiveness to those who sent it our way over the last few years. We will represent ourselves with integrity and we will act, converse, and think with our eyes and minds fixed on the truth, and with our hearts girded by honesty, empathy, compassion, and humility. We are committed to being everything we say we are — everything we hope to be — and we are here to help each other remember that standard of values and discourse.
When it comes to topics as serious as the ones we are discussing here today, we as an MSU community say loudly and clearly that we hope that those in charge at the University of Michigan will make better choices than our leadership did. We are here to support you as you journey down this path. Please learn from the mistakes our school has made and do not make those same mistakes.
This is not about rivalry – this is about people. We want you to get this right by making the correct decisions and putting people above reputation. Authorize an independent investigation quickly and do it in a way that results in a meaningful report. Contact former patients, students and anyone who possibly could have been affected. Be transparent and publish a public report so that we all can learn from what went wrong. Show the victims/survivors that they matter by putting them first.
When you handle this well, it will benefit those who matter most – the victims/survivors of sexual abuse. Please know that we are here with you, standing by your side.
The Only Colors Team