Addressing Recent Events on Painting the Rock

June 11, 2021

Dear Students,

Recent messages on the MSU rock regarding the university’s mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) online programming have left many in our community feeling targeted and erased. We need to acknowledge that harm has been felt and that more work must be done to ensure the safety and well-being of all Spartans. While we understand there are people in the community who do not agree with our mandatory DEI Foundations programming, the university is fully committed to continuing our diversity education and inclusion efforts.

The rock has been a beloved monument for many generations at MSU, dating back to 1873. It is a place where students have shared their opinions on many issues including political campaigns, social movements, and remembrance days – or celebrating milestones and each other. It is painted almost every day and there are no written rules for when the rock can be repainted. At the same time, the university supports freedom of speech in all forms and expects every member of our campus community to comply with the MSU Anti-Discrimination Policy.

The intersection of inclusion and free speech sometimes seems like a crossroads. These crossroads can be uncomfortable at times. But we feel they are important principles that need to work together which we should all honor. Based on events over the past week, we are having important dialogues with many student groups to discuss the impact of these messages and underscore our commitment to inclusive excellence. We are committed to the development of a holistic approach for our community as we respond with support and inquiries.

We want all students to feel heard, safe, and supported and have listed some helpful resources below:




Jabbar R. Bennett, Ph.D. (he/him)

Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer