Editorial: If Snyder speaks, not all may listen

Photo+by+Emmalene+Oysti

Photo by Emmalene Oysti

North Wind Staff

An invitation to speak at NMU’s May commencement was recently extended to Gov. Rick Snyder. This decision has sparked outrage amongst students and faculty. During Snyder’s term he appointed emergency city managers who switched Flint’s water source to the Flint River for cost cutting measures. This switch led to Flint drinking water being contaminated with lead and other toxins. Regardless of political beliefs, Snyder seems to defy the principles the administration and campus community prides itself on. Here’s why:

  • Inviting Snyder may be mostly political. The NMU Board of Trustees have the final say on approving the commencement speaker. Each member of the board was appointed by Snyder.
  • Just last week, one of Snyder’s top aides admitted that he warned the governor about Flint’s lead levels months before Snyder had addressed the danger. We are inviting a potential criminal to address students.
  • A rise in Legionnaire’s disease took place from June 2014 to November 2015, with 87 cases reported in Genesee County, 12 of which resulted in death. It is speculated Flint’s water source led to this spike. Fetal death rates in 2014 also increased by 58 percent.
  • NMU alum Ron Fonger was just awarded the Distinguished Alumni of the Year award for his active role in exposing the Flint Water Crisis.
  • In 2016, a lawsuit filed against Snyder and other state education officials asserted that the state excluded Detroit schoolchildren from Michigan’s educational system. Snyder and the state responded to the lawsuit by claiming “literacy is not a right granted to individuals by the Constitution.”
  • Once elected, Snyder appointed four emergency city managers who made decisions leading to lead poisoning in Flint.

As a university who preaches the representation of the campus community and transparency between students and administration as of the utmost importance, it is asinine to invite a man who threw away government transparency and who students and faculty are so actively opposing. We, here at the North Wind, are hopeful the administration will not follow suit with Indigenous Peoples’ Day on this issue and stay in touch with the student body’s voice that is screaming against Snyder.