Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Editorial: Michigan State University, Home of the Larry Nassar Scandal

<p>Ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar enters the court room on the seventh and final day of his sentencing on Jan. 24, 2018 at the Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing.</p>

Ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar enters the court room on the seventh and final day of his sentencing on Jan. 24, 2018 at the Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing.

Photo by Nic Antaya | The State News

The fire’s still burning, MSU.

You have started putting it out, but there's still more to go.

Last week, we warned you. We told you your house was burning. We asked you to take a hard look at your leadership. We asked you to put out the fire, starting with our president, and you listened, but it's just the start.

Now, instead of slowly extinguishing the fire, all you’ve done is drench your house in gasoline.

In the week since our call for MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon to resign, ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 175 years, on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County. 

The list of those calling for Simon’s resignation grew to include MSU Trustee Mitch Lyons, the Michigan House of Representatives and other state senators, dozens of survivors and Spartans across the nation. The NCAA and the Michigan Attorney General have opened investigations into MSU.

The flames consumed Simon. And the flames are spreading.

Six of the eight trustees stood behind Simon until she resigned. Mark Dantonio, Tom Izzo and Suzy Merchant supported their leader until the end. Mark Hollis’ statement Wednesday about the NCAA investigation lacked even a mention of why it’s investigating.

Mark, Tom, Suzy and Mark: The world is watching and you failed miserably. Just because Simon is gone, doesn't mean we are done. We're still here, watching, waiting for you to step up for the community.

Just because you’re revered as some of the most influential people in the college realm doesn’t mean you can hide behind your ignorance. 

There’s no “hope the right person was convicted.”

Hey Tom, he was.

As the most well-known faces of our university, we expected you to acknowledge the horrors that happened, but instead, we were left disappointed and concerned for the future of the university you all claim to love.

You sat at press conferences, unprepared to talk about the largest scandal currently facing college athletics.

And Joel Ferguson, we’ve already established this is more than “just this Nassar thing.”

Do better, because time’s up.

MSU is so close to becoming forever associated with the Nassar scandal. In fact, many news outlets are calling this the “largest sexual-abuse scandal” in college sports. We’re so close to being recognized as the college capital of sexual assault, but maybe we already are.

For some, MSU is already tainted because of this scandal. Dozens of survivors have said just seeing green and white makes them sick. There are students who feel ashamed to go here and alumni who are ashamed to hang their MSU degrees.

It’s hard to be proud of institutional failures. It’s hard to be proud of lackluster, delayed responses and public faces who don’t know the survivors’ names. 

But let’s get one thing straight — The State News is not against MSU. We are MSU.

We don’t want MSU to be defined by this. We want MSU to make things right, to take ownership and to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Maybe we’re stupid for continuing to put our faith in this university. But we want our university back.

We still have hope, and we know other Spartans feel the same way. We see students and community members painting the Rock on Farm Lane for change, planning protests and wearing teal, with hope MSU will do something, anything, to change for the better. Even survivors have said they still root for MSU.

This campus is loved by so many and it’s filled with people who want MSU to move forward. Good things do happen at this university every day. But MSU continues to minimize the issue, and it’s not right.

MSU still has time — albeit not much — to change.

A year ago, we warned you. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” we said. We asked you to be transparent. We told you it was just the beginning.

At this point, MSU, you have a decision to make: Will you own up to mistakes and try to rebuild with the rest of the community, or will you become nothing more than “Michigan State University, Home of the Larry Nassar Scandal”?

Better hurry up and make the right decision, MSU. You don’t want to be forever damned in the fiery inferno.

The world is watching, MSU. What are you going to do?

The State News Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief Rachel Fradette, Managing Editor McKenna Ross, Campus Editor Madison O’Connor, City Editor Souichi Terada, Features Editor Sasha Zidar, Sports Editor Jonathan LeBlanc, Inclusion Representative Maxwell Evans, Staff Representative Marie Weidmayer and Copy Chief Casey Holland.

Sports Editor Jonathan LeBlanc and Staff Representative Marie Weidmayer did not vote during this editorial meeting. 

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