EAST LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees is eyeing a proposal to put public comments on the clock—limiting them to 45 minutes total, with 15 speakers getting three minutes each.

This move, set for discussion at a June 28th meeting in Flint, mirrors practices at other Michigan public universities and aims to improve meeting efficiency.

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Emily Guerrant, an MSU spokesperson, emphasized the need for effective and efficient governance while maintaining public input. “We still want there to be a way for various stakeholder groups to come to the board meeting and share their views,” Guerrant told The Detroit News.

Trustee Dennis Denno is not on board with this idea, however.

According to Denno, the board meets only six times a year, and limiting public comment further restricts opportunities for students and faculty to voice their concerns. He told The Detroit News that listening to public comments, even those he disagrees with, is crucial for the board.

The proposal’s timing, set for a summer meeting when the campus is less active, has also been criticized. Mike Balow, a candidate for the Board of Trustees, suggested it might be an attempt to avoid scrutiny.

“It’s a little bit, like, under cover of night,” Balow told The Detroit News, urging the board to address the root causes driving people to speak out. 

Jesse Estrada White, a senior at MSU and student activist, linked the proposal to ongoing campus tensions, including pressure from the MSU Hurriya Coalition to divest from Israel. 

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“We can’t divorce this campaign from a larger movement across the entire campus that’s been trying to push this Board of Trustees to be more accountable to students and to staff and to faculty and the larger community,” White said.

According to The Detroit News, Professor Shawnee Vickery called the decision “disappointing” and “cowardly,” questioning why the board would limit dissenting views.