MSU students react to ex-dean Strampel's arrest, recent news
The charges against Strampel, which were the latest development in the scandal involving ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar, have caused frustration among students at Fee Hall, home of COM.
However, some students interviewed largely seemed unaware of the specifics regarding Strampel's arrest, and on multiple occasions, confused the charges against Strampel with Nassar's completed criminal case.
Genetics sophomore Allison Swider said she wasn't aware of the exact charges against Strampel, but knew of the allegations of sexual misconduct.
The charges stem in part from accusations that Strampel offered academic benefits in exchange for sexual favors. Swider said a culture in which this was allowed to continue made her and her family uneasy about her future studies at MSU.
"It made my dad especially a little bit fearful, because I'm on the pre-med track and I'm headed in the direction of med school," Swider said. "I would like to stay with MSU for med school ... It kind of makes me a little bit wary of their whole structure of how they run things."
She said she also was aware of "what they had found" on Strampel's university computer — a forensic investigation discovered pornographic content, potentially of MSU students, and a video of Nassar "treating" a patient.
Swider said she wasn't sure whether Strampel's actions were sign of a deeper toxic culture at the university.
"I truly hope that it is a case of just a few people that made a rotten situation for everybody, but it's kind of hard to be optimistic when what they have found already has been so terrible," Swider said.
Other students felt similarly and some wondered whether Strampel's alleged actions were simply those of a rogue faculty member or were a sign of deeper institutional problems.
Human biology freshman Lauren Sadik said Strampel was "definitely not just one bad apple" — she said the charges against his and Nassar's crimes showed MSU has a bigger issue when it comes to sexual assault.
She said a major issue with ridding the university of sexual harassment and assault is that it largely depends on victims — who might struggle with bringing their trauma out into the open — coming forward against their abusers.
"It's definitely something that's gone on and needs to be put to an end, but I understand that it's also a very hard thing to point those people out," Sadik said. "It's up to the victims — which obviously is difficult to do — to stand up and say something's happening before it's too far and someone else is victimized."
Sadik said it was troubling a faculty member would allegedly try to receive sexual favors in exchange for academic success.
"That's scary, honestly, because (medical school) is something that determines your future," Sadik said. "It's disgusting that someone would do that and use that vulnerability."
Human biology senior Max Capp, who wasn't familiar with the charges against Strampel prior to being interviewed, said his initial reaction to Strampel's arrest was "betrayal." He felt Strampel's harassment both harmed the victims and potentially put other students at a disadvantage.
"You're not supposed to give anyone an upper hand — it's all supposed to be even here," Capp said. "When you hear that some people were getting better grades for sexual favors, especially with someone that you're supposed to trust to talk to, it kinda hurts a little."
Capp was mistaken on the point of the requests for sexual favors actually leading to academic benefits; that has not been confirmed.
Capp, who is unsure of his future plans in medicine but is interested in entering nursing, said a culture enabling sexual assault wasn't unique to MSU. He said he believes harassment and other forms of abuse occur elsewhere — MSU is just the one currently under scrutiny.
"Since Michigan State got caught, now they're really under the magnifying glass," Capp said. "For such a big public university it's unacceptable. It should be fixed, and people should be held accountable."
The lack of clarity on what exactly had happened with Strampel led some students interviewed to say they wished they had seen an official response — like a campus-wide email — from the university in regards to Strampel's arrest.
However, education freshman Claire Furman — who only has one class in Fee Hall and is not associated with the College of Osteopathic Medicine — said she understood that pleasing everybody on such a large campus was a difficult task.
"I feel like they could do a better job (keeping students updated), but it's kind of hard to when there's so many students," Furman said. "They're doing their best, but it's a really big issue."
Swider said she appreciated MSU students' efforts to combat sexual assault in response to Nassar's crimes and Strampel's alleged actions. She said her fellow students provided hope, even as it was difficult to stay positive — or see an end to the turmoil.
"It definitely is saddening that it's happening here on our campus and we are the ones who are being the example," Swider said. "But I feel like we will be able to pull through to make sure ... that things like this not only don't happen here, but don't happen at other places."
The university will continue to recognize the rest of this week as the "It's On Us" Week of Action to raise awareness around and support survivors of sexual assault.
Editor's Note: The headline was changed at 12:33 p.m. to reflect to show MSU student reactions, not necessarily College of Osteopathic Medicine students.