Larry Nassar was an osteopathic physician for Michigan State. He has already pled guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct, and allegations by more than 150 women in civil lawsuits, many of which involve MSU.
The victim impact statements being read by a seemingly endless stream of Nassar’s victims during his sentencing hearing this week are impossible to ignore. Those statements, coupled with in-depth reporting by Outside the Lines and the The Detroit News, have shown that however much they wish to downplay it, Michigan State University is alleged to have had a significant role in allowing and enabling this abuse to happen for years.
I urge all Spartans to read these pieces of journalism in their entirety, however uncomfortable it may be.
If you are anything like me and the alums I have talked to, you are sickened, disgusted, and embarrassed by what is being reported. And you should be. What we have found out this week suggests what many have feared – that much of this was preventable, and countless lives were forever changed well after something should have – and could have – been done.
As an institution, Michigan State University likely failed Nassar’s victims, women who were strong enough to come forward and say something to someone in a position of authority.
It failed any victims who were subject to Nassar after those in positions of power had been told of what he was doing, and after an investigation determined that Nassar should be allowed to continue treating patients.
Michigan State continues to fail. The lack of leadership and accountability from the university is disheartening. One of the women to come forward directly addressed President Lou Anna K. Simon, saying that Simon gave a poor excuse for missing the sentencing that she was too busy and would potentially be a distraction.
People want answers. People deserve answers.
It is time for someone from the university to step up and say what is now obvious to anyone paying attention. Many, including the State News, have called for the resignation of President Simon in the wake of the Detroit News story. I certainly do not blame them. Regardless of what she did or did not know, she is the president of the university, and the buck stops with her.
Friday the MSU Board of Trustees met to discuss President Simon’s future, and after a lengthy meeting that lasted several hours, decided to give Simon a vote of support. They released this statement:
Statements from MSU president Lou Anna Simon and board Chairperson Brian Breslin pic.twitter.com/TcNpH4iXxB— Matt Mencarini (@MattMencarini) January 19, 2018
The board did not take questions from the press after the meeting.
The reactions I have seen to this decision are almost entirely negative. The Michigan State community of students, alumni, and supporters is crying out for someone at the university to take responsibility, and they are not satisfied with what they have seen and heard.
The Board of Trustees claims to have “listened and heard the victims” but many people are still speaking out. The list of people giving statements has grown from around 80 to 120 over the last few days.
For an institution and an athletic department that has prided itself on its leadership, they are greatly lacking it now, when it is needed more than ever. Someone needs to step up, and they need to do it now.
Friday, the MSU Board of Trustees asked the Michigan Attorney General to investigate the university’s handling of the Nassar assault allegations. We need to find out who was at fault, and those people need to be removed, whoever they may be. This is bigger than one person, one athletic director, one president. Those that allowed this to go on need to be held responsible.
Most importantly, we need to understand how this happened so that it never happens again. Not just at MSU, but anywhere. The lessons that can be learned from this and the Penn State scandal can help save lives and prevent future victims. We need to examine the systemic flaws within the institutions that allowed this to go on so that we can correct them.
We don’t know the number of girls and women who were abused by this monster. It went on for years. The physical abuse has ended, but the effects of it may never go away. Michigan State cannot change what has happened, but it can do the best it can to hold those responsible and try and make sure this never happens again.
The university’s slogan is “Who will? Spartans Will.” Well there has never been a better time to show that those are more than just words on a pamphlet and in a commercial. Step up Michigan State, because if you don’t, who will?