MSU Board of Trustees comment on recent controversies
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and members of the Board of Trustees addressed several controversies and the current campus climate surrounding MSU at Friday morning's Board of Trustees meeting.
MSU administration responded to several issues, including how the university has handled sexual harassment and assault allegations brought forward. This included statements on the cases surrounding ex-MSU employee Larry Nassar and suspension of the three football players and a staff member for sexual assault allegations. Trustee Mitch Lyons read a statement in response to a controversial tweet he published on Jan. 31.
The Board of Trustee's statement on ex-MSU employee Larry Nassar
MSU Board of Trustees Chairman Brian Breslin read a statement regarding Nassar on behalf of the Board of Trustees.
Breslin said the board is "deeply concerned about the allegations of sexual assault against former MSU doctor Larry Nassar connected to his work at MSU" and said MSU has been responsive to the situation.
Breslin also said two law firms have been engaged to represent the university in all aspects of this matter. Skadden Arps law firm has been engaged since October 2016 and the Miller Canfield law firm has been engaged since January 2017.
"This representation includes conducting the factual review necessary to address the allegations being made and to assess Nassar's former work at the university, including his work with MSU Athletics," Breslin said. "The legal team, led by Patrick Fitzgerald, a former federal prosecutor and United States attorney, has also been providing guidance on how the university can best conduct the factual review so as to not interfere with the separate investigations being led by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Michigan Attorney General."
Breslin said the board acknowledges and appreciates the courage of each person who does come forward to report offenses.
Breslin said the board will not make any additional comments on the issue at this time.
President Simon on the current campus climate, other sexual violence cases
Simon addressed the sexual violence cases MSU is dealing with in a statement she read as a part of her report during the Board of Trustees meeting.
"MSU is currently dealing with several unrelated issues of sexual assault or harassment that people might associate together, because they’ve come to light at about the same time," she said. "Each case is different, each is taken seriously, and each is subject to separate investigative processes that deserve to be respected."
Simon said for each sexual assault or gender violence case, there is both a Title IX and law enforcement investigation, which proceed independently of each other. She also acknowledged the victims who have come forward and said "we will continue to look at every situation with integrity and diligence."
"People might conclude these developments indicate a culture problem here at MSU," Simon said. "Let me be clear: We are committed to creating a culture of both accountability and safety and responsiveness regarding sexual assault and harassment. There is no culture of tolerating sexual abuse or harassment on our campus."
Simon said the expectation is that every university employee will cooperate fully with any law enforcement or Title IX investigation.
"Like all institutions—and society itself—MSU is not perfect, but we are dedicated to being better tomorrow that we are today," Simon said. "And we are absolutely committed to the safety and security of every member of our campus community."
Her full statement can be found here.
President Simon on the three suspended football players and staff member
In response to the three suspended football players and staff member who are currently under investigation for allegations of sexual assault, Simon said it has been important for Athletic Director Mark Hollis to stand up for current MSU students.
"I would want any athletic director to provide an environment where the sexual assault of a high-profile set of student-athletes can be investigated in the most full fashion and support that investigation," Simon said. "I think that speaks highly of him and sets him apart from some of the other issues that are around the country with athletic directors."
Mitch Lyons' statement on controversial tweet
Trustee Lyons read a statement in response to his controversial tweet ban from Jan. 31, which has since been taken down. Lyons said his tweet was not about the executive order on immigration.
"My tweet was an expression — ill-conceived, perhaps — of frustration," Lyons said. "Frustration on the university's statement regarding such a politically-charged and divisive issue, was issued without any kind of dialect beforehand with the university board."
Lyons said many took his tweet to mean he didn't welcome international students on MSU's campus or that he thought all Muslims were terrorists. He said these ideas were not true and that he was instead against terrorism in whatever form it may come in.
"I welcome all immigrants to the United States," Lyons said. "Certainly, more thought could have been given as to how some people would have interpret my comment. I'm sorry I didn't give more forethought to that."