EAST LANSING, MICH. - Supporters of Michigan State University's now-defunct Women's Study Lounge gathered Wednesday to protest the administration's decision to turn it into a co-ed space.
"(President Lou Anna) Simon is not working on behalf of women (at a time) when the university is rebuilding the glass ceiling she broke through," said Alyse Maksimoski, who organized the protest.
MSU's decisions to change the lounge and to dissolve the Women's Resource center deprive female students of the resources and support they need to be successful, Maksimoski said.
The group gathered more than 600 signatures during their all-day protest. Students shared stories of how the lounge benefited them during their time at MSU and called on the administration to change its decision.
The lounge was closed this summer during renovations. In evaluating the space, MSU spokesman Jason Cody said administrators determined the lounge would better serve students as a co-ed space. He later told the Washington Post that the change was made to ensure MSU was compliant with Title IX, which bar institutions that receive federal money from discriminating based on gender.
Mark Perry, a University of Michigan-Flint professor, filed a complaint with the Michigan Office of Civil Rights in July, alleging the space was discriminating against male students in violation of federal law. His complaint was dismissed because Perry didn't suffer any negative impact personally from the lounge, said Vicki Levengood, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Apryl Pooley, a doctoral candidate at MSU, argued Title IX was created to grant women greater access to higher education. Having space for women to study and feel safe doesn't violate the spirit of the law, she argued.
"The solution isn't closing the lounge," Pooley said.
Maksimoski said she hopes to meet with administrators in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.
(© 2016 WZZM)