Sunday, September 26, 2021

Editorial: MSU must release Nassar investigation reports

Hannah Administration Building on Aug. 29, 2015. Courtney Kendler/The State News
Hannah Administration Building on Aug. 29, 2015. Courtney Kendler/The State News —

The allegations are no more. They happened.

Larry Nassar’s positions at MSU and USA Gymnastics aided his credibility, as his vast reputation caused many to believe his actions were legitimate practices. Revered like a “god” within the gymnastics world, Nassar took advantage of young girls, most who were minors, and preyed upon the power the communities gave him.

Now, fallen from grace, Nassar has pleaded guilty to three federal charges related to child pornography and 10 first-degree sexual misconduct charges — seven in Ingham County and three in Eaton County.

To calm the growing storm or to simply improve internal processes, MSU previously hired two law firms, Skadden Arps and Miller Canfield, to assist with Nassar-related lawsuits and to conduct analytical investigations pertaining to Nassar's former work with MSU Athletics. 

The investigation was never designed to result in a report, MSU has said, but with the conclusion of Nassar’s heavy prosecution, a growing number of attorneys and survivors are calling for the university to release any and all findings of the internal investigation.

Although MSU’s legal fees are paid from its own investments, as a taxpayer and tuition-funded institution, MSU owes its students, Nassar’s victims and by extension the State of Michigan the right to total transparency.

University spokespeople have reassured the public that any violations found in any internal investigations will be filed to appropriate authorities, but they never promised to make findings publicly visible. The only investigation and report that has been happily shared was the Title IX investigation led by Husch Blackwell, where MSU was found Title IX complaint.

Many of Nassar’s survivors and attorneys have said they think MSU has engaged in a “cover up” of sorts. Their distrust stems from the fact that they have seen little to no information from MSU about what — if anything — could have prevented the abuse from happening.

For all we know, it could be the truth that MSU has done its due diligence and there is no “cover up.” But without the release of any report related to an internal review, survivors of abuse have said they feel as though they cannot move on or find closure simply by trusting MSU’s word.

Even if MSU has had no hand in the abuse that has spanned more than 20 years and affected more than 140 women, MSU still owes survivors the peace of mind, closure and solidarity they deserve by releasing a report that shows why MSU is not to blame.

Attorneys point out that the end of the trial does not mean the ordeal disappears from the minds of the survivors or from the university’s history. MSU has to walk the long path of reformation, and releasing these reports is a crucial first step that would prove the university cares about those affected. Even more, it proves to the faculty, students and stakeholders who called for investigations that MSU listens.

For the survivors of Nassar’s abuse and for their own integrity, MSU should go beyond strengthening policy. MSU needs to release any and all reports from investigations into Nassar and his role at MSU. Nassar’s actions and abuse of power require complete and total transparency.

We all deserve to know exactly how the abuse happened and how the university was or was not involved. Releasing information and reports might not paint the whole picture, but it might bring us a step closer. Most importantly, they might bring Nassar’s victims one step closer to moving on.

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.

Staff Representative Madison O’Connor did not sit in on this editorial.

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