Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Editorial: An open letter to MSU's administration

In the aftermath of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, ex-MSU Marching Band Director John T. Madden and reports of 19 sexual assaults taking place in Greek Life over the past five years, The State News would like to ask one thing of President Lou Anna K. Simon, MSU's board of trustees and anyone else who considers themselves an authority figure on MSU’s campus: Do something.

Show us you are working to solve these problems. Of all the issues at MSU, that should be the biggest complaint — the university’s inability to communicate with its community.

The State News reported there were 19 sexual assaults at registered IFC chapter houses in the past five years. And yet, we haven’t been able to get any sort of comment from MSU on the situation.

Nassar was first accused of sexual assault in September 2016. You didn’t officially comment until February 2017.

MSU spokesman Jason Cody sent a statement to other university officials regarding Madden’s sexual harassment in October 2016 in anticipation a story would soon surface, according to documents obtained by The State News. 

It has been almost two years since Madden’s sexual harassment investigation. In February, it will be a year since The State News story broke, making waves.

And yet again, Simon has remained silent. 

MSU has no right to be quiet about allegations of sexual misconduct, nor should MSU sit back and allow these issues to boil over until the administration is forced to address them. 

Students and members of the MSU community deserve to have the administration and the president acknowledge a problem when it persists. When the university remains silent on issues of sexual misconduct, it shows us MSU is again acting only in the defense of the brand, not for the students who comprise the community. 

When the Lansing State Journal called for Simon to resign on Sunday, MSU's Board of Trustees released a statement just hours later to defend her. Where is that level of timeliness for actual problems affecting students?

We want to believe MSU is doing the right thing. We want MSU to be a safe campus. You were hired because, overall, you want to make students feel safe. Sometimes discussing negatives can be a positive, leading people to feel more secure.

MSU needs to be more transparent even though that might not paint MSU in the best light. A more open environment allows the adults on campus to trust the university more. In turn, that leads to the betterment of the community.

When you operate through a veil of secrecy, people are left to make their own assumptions, which is how the face of Nassar defined the past two years of MSU’s history — because that’s the only face there is. 

Maybe the Lansing State Journal is right. Maybe Simon does need to resign. This silent attitude is all the administration knows, as we’ve seen. But as of right now, we don’t know if she’d be replaced by anyone better.

What we do know, though, is the university needs to do right by its students, faculty and the survivors of sexual misconduct, among others. There is no maybe here, it’s a black and white issue. Do something so we can move forward.

The State News Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief Rachel Fradette, Managing Editor McKenna Ross, Campus Editor Brigid Kennedy, City Editor Riley Murdock, Features Editor Sasha Zidar, Sports Editor Sam Metry, Copy Chief Blair Baeten, Staff Representative Madison O'Connor and Inclusion Representative Souichi Terada.

Inclusion Representative Souichi Terada did not sit in on this editorial.

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