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ASMSU calls for university to take 'responsibility' for Nassar

January 19, 2018

The Associated Students of MSU, or ASMSU, participated in a discussion on Friday that ended in a decision ASMSU President Lorenzo Santavicca said is "putting a lot on the line."

In the recent events of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar investigation and sentencing, along with one hundred-plus women coming forward with victim statements since Tuesday, the general assembly voted unanimously on a bill that reads: 

"ASMSU calls for the university administration to take ownership and responsibility for their negligence and willful ignorance in allowing Larry Nassar to commit criminal acts from a university position; with regard to ongoing legal proceedings and public reporting, all involved parties should speak and act with this previously shirked responsibility in mind."

Though every member voted to pass the bill, there were still mixed feelings about its intentions.

“This is the inevitable conclusion to all of this," Representative Isaiah Hawkins said in response to the bill. "Us as a governing body, we need to call for change. That’s why we’re here, to call out administration when they have committed wrong. And they have committed wrong. But I will also say that this is the beginning of the long conversation for how we move forward.” 

Almost every single member of the general assembly, the President of the Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Team, students who have worked with the Board of Trustees in the past and members of the public — some of which were survivors of sexual assault — voiced concerns and supported the bill, seeking to make the university accountable for their mishandling of the investigation.

They join a number of government officials, public figures and organizations that have expressed concerns in the past few months, calling for the resignation of MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.

Though ASMSU's recently passed bill does not explicitly call for any resignations, according to Santavicca, it is calling for a "change in leadership," which, as he also said could be interpreted as calling for Simon's resignation. 

Some general assembly members, however, were uncomfortable with the idea of calling for Simon's resignation. 

“I condemn (the university administration) but I don’t want to oust them without knowing the exact ramifications of ousting the Board of Trustees, and not just the Board of Trustees, ousting Simon," Representative Ryan Aridi said. "I want to know her side of the story, I want to know more about it, and until I can do that I cannot support this." 

Aridi later added his name to the bill as a supportive member since there was no call of any resignations being explicitly written in the bill. 

Others believed the time was now to have members of the university resign, despite it was not explicitly written in the bill. 

“I understand not wanting to name names, but I think that it’s okay to name names with all that’s happened," Social Relations and Policy senior Colin Wiebrecht, a member of the public, said. "And personally, I think that President Simon has been dismissing concerns for years now.”  

A few students in the general assembly stated the calling of any resignations was not the topic of this specific bill, but may be the topic in the future of the ongoing discussion within the student government and university's campus that is to come of this. 

"We are demanding that we as a campus, and as a community, be treated with the respect that we have deserved for years now and that has not been granted to us,"  ASMSU Representative of the Alliance for Queer and Allied Students Olivia Brenner said. "We are demanding that the survivors of both Larry Nassar and many other sexual assaults and sexual misconduct situations that have been mishandled on campus be given the validity and support that they deserve. 

"This is timely. This is well overdue in fact, and this is not happening too fast. This is, as its been stated, the first of many bills that we are going to see on this subject. Some of those bills may deal with resignation. This one, does not.” 

Santavicca said though the bill could be interpreted as a call for resignation or some sort of action from the Board of Trustees, it was not written in the bill due to the lack of clarity in who is accountable for what in the investigation that will be addressed in court. 

"As the general assembly voted (for the bill)," Santavicca said, "they didn’t want to name a specific person or persons because we know that the civil litigation is still coming forward but we know that in order for the university to move and heal itself, we need to change the leadership. And what does that look like, I don’t know. If that means the Board saying that they need to fire the President or the President resigns, then that is what we would ultimately agree with.”

Santavicca also said he will be having more serious conversations with Simon and hopes the university will hear the concerns brought forward from the student government.

“I would only hope going forward that after what we’ve passed tonight as a unanimous vote of everyone here tonight, that they would still want to be with us as ASMSU, as a student governing voice for undergraduate students to say ‘we still support and believe in what (you’re) doing as an organization’", Santavicca said. "And by god I’m sure that they will. I hope that they will. And if they don’t they’ve been a disgrace to the relationship that I formed with them for this organization.” 

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