UNITED STATES—Last week we talked about fallen doctor and former Michigan State University gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar. After nearly a week of hearing 150 plus victim impact statements, Nasser was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison. To be honest I would have sentenced the predator to 175 years minimum, but considering the judge was forced to do a minimum of at least 40 years, which the sentence had to consider. The verdict delivered to Nasser is not enough in my opinion, especially when it comes to the victims, but knowing that this disgusting individual can never harm another woman again is fitting.
However, the big tale this week is the major backlash that Michigan State University is facing in the midst of this national scandal. Look I’m going to speak frank in this column because it’s important to me, and being alumni of Michigan State University, I know things about the school that only further explains why some of the actions and recent headlines about the university have come to light. I’m going to be blunt, the MSU Board of Trustees are full of crap. They are insensitive, tone deaf and could care less about what really transpired. They only addressed the issue head-on because of the constant media attention and scrutiny they received in recent weeks.
By now, you all are aware that MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon resigned last week after constant barraging for her to step down in the midst of the Larry Nassar attention. Yes, I agree with that resignation because there is no way in the world Simon had no clue of what Nassar was doing behind the scenes when countless incidents were brought to high-ranking officials at the university. According to reports, cases were brought to the university’s attention as early as the mid-1990s, and again in 2014, and it wasn’t until 2016 where things really hit the fan.
Simon delivered a resignation letter via the school’s website, in essence noting she was a scapegoat for the controversy at hand. She didn’t even show the bit most sympathy for the victims or her possible role in not taking action to prevent this predator from continuing to cause more and more harm to others. While the MSU Board of Trustees are busy searching for a new president for the school, someone needs to clean house and get rid of all of them.
If Simon has to go, all of them should have to vacate as well, unless they were recently voted to the board in the last election. It’s time to clean house, and when you have people like Joel Ferguson making insensitive and ignorant comments, its sends a clear message to the students of the university and those looking in from the outside that school officials don’t care as to what has transpired. I recall a time where I sent an email to several MSU Board of Trustees inquiring as to why tuition was constantly on the rise at the university. And the response I received left me baffled. I could care less about a new statue being built on campus, and student funds should not be used for that.
This is just steam compared to the possible repercussions MSU could face now that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has launched an investigation to find out what officials at the school knew about Nassar and when they knew it. On top of that, the NCAA is also launching an investigation into the school. And on top of that, the Michigan House of Representatives are also launching their own investigation into the university as well. Personally, I think all are warranted, and the fact that the university could lose state funding because of this if it turns out that officials were aware of what Nassar was doing behind closed doors and failed to take action.
However, that is nothing compared to the bombshell scoop delivered by ESPN last week shedding light on multiple assault and sexual assault incidents involving football and basketball players at the university. This has placed a bullseye on MSU football coach Mark Dantonio and MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo. Well I don’t know both gentlemen personally, but while at the university I worked as a tutor at the Student Athlete Support Services building assisting student athletes with their studies.
For years, there has been talk about athletes being treated differently than other students on campus because they bring such a high level of revenue to the school. I mean I was in a psychology class with several star basketball players, who would constantly chat during lecture and attempt to get other students to allow them to cheat on exams. I even recall a specific incident where one of the players was caught cheating on an exam and the professor simply gave a warning. A friend of mine looked at me and noted that if it was us doing that, we’d be kicked out the class and perhaps even expelled from the university.
That’s just the beginning of such questionable behavior. I mean while tutoring some athletes I would hear whispers about their sexual escapades some which seemed, how can I say this, not normal to say the least. It was almost like some of them looked at it as a badge of honor, which I found absolutely disturbing. Now this notion was way more common with football players, than basketball players if you ask me. However, the fact that such language and behavior seemed to be the norm at the university was disturbing to say the least.
I mean you hear so many stories about sexual assault on college campuses all the time and the fact that they go unreported all the time because the victims are afraid of speaking up or that fear that they will not be taken seriously is disappointing to hear. I mean last year several members of the football team were kicked off and expelled from the school after an incident involving a female student. What’s worse? The campus has a region known as the ‘Rape Trial’ near Holmes Hall that students are warned to be careful about venturing thru at night. Why? Well its pitch black and several sexual assaults and rapes have transpired in this region in the past.
That’s not something a university should be okay with, and it’s alarming that students talk about it as if it’s no big tale. As a parent if your child is attending a college campus, you want to know they are safe, you want to be assured that issues pertaining to sexual assault and rape are NOT common nature, and if such an incident does indeed transpire, the appropriate actions and steps will be taken to seek justice. However, that is not always the case, and to shed further light on things, this is NOT just a Michigan State University problem; these issues transpire all the time on college campuses throughout the United States.
We need to have this discussion, we need to talk about ways to prevent them and worse we have to encourage women to speak up and not be silent. In addition, men need to be allies and report something if they see something; a silent voice helps no one in such a situation. MSU is in the hot seat right now, but as time tells you should expect to hear about other universities facing the heat for not taking appropriate actions to protect students as they are intended to do very soon.