On Feb. 2 the Exponent published an OpEd by Dave Biegel, an MSU student who attended part of HATCHedu. He characterized the event as “inappropriate” and “sexualized,” and suggested that MSU not sponsor HATCH anymore. Having witnessed these interactions, I was perplexed by his account. Biegel has a right to his opinion and I can’t argue his level of discomfort, but his interpretation of the events appears highly subjective and was delivered out of context. HATCHedu offers a unique and impactful learning opportunity for MSU students, and one opinion should not prevent MSU from collaborating with HATCH in the future.
The article states “HATCH hosts asked attendees for their relationship status.” This refers to a moment during an icebreaker where attendees could voluntarily raise their hands, and was used to demonstrate group process and creative energy. The quote “multiple Hatchers spoke about spooning each other and sharing hotel rooms” refers to a quick, casual joke made by a HATCHer about her lodging situation.
Overall, Dave’s critique wasn’t representative of the event’s intent. Had Dave stayed, he would have witnessed the true intention of HATCHedu. He’d have seen teams of faculty and students develop innovative solutions to problems like homelessness and environmental sustainability, the rapid construction of last-minute pitch videos, an original song composed by an inspired student and the enthusiasm each group brought to their live presentations. Most importantly, he would have seen a stunning display of HATCH mentorship: world-class designers, entrepreneurs and musicians selflessly offering one-on-one mentorship, guidance and even funding to the students they treated as partners and peers. Such was their belief in the capability of the students and importance of the projects.
This is why HATCH is so vital. I attended HATCH four years ago as a freshman at MSU. The experience of interacting with such immensely talented and passionate people was life-changing, and radically altered my MSU career.
HATCHedu brings this unique experience to universities. It flattens hierarchy allowing students, faculty and administrators from across campus to engage at a personal level. It connects students with world-class mentors, produces student-lead projects that impact our community and inspires attendees. Non-traditional learning experiences like HATCHedu enhance our education and open our eyes to the possibilities found beyond the university walls. Clearly this is an opportunity for HATCH to improve, but MSU should not allow an emotionally-driven OpEd prevent future MSU students from benefiting from the program.