Wednesday, October 28, 2020

'We will not be silent': MSU rallies for resignations

April 23, 2018
<p>The statue of John A. Hannah stands wrapped with caution tape on April 20, 2018 at the Hannah Administration Building. The rally was organized by students and Nassar survivors to call for the resignation of the Board of Trustees.</p>

The statue of John A. Hannah stands wrapped with caution tape on April 20, 2018 at the Hannah Administration Building. The rally was organized by students and Nassar survivors to call for the resignation of the Board of Trustees.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Some students, survivors and other members of the community want the Board of Trustees and Interim President John Engler to resign, and in demand for better leadership on campus, they gathered on Friday to express their disappointment.

Hosted by Reclaim MSU and Me Too MSU, the MSU Rally for Resignations took place on the steps of the Hannah Administration Building. 

“We have begged for their empathy and received the opposite,” Melody Posthuma-Vanderveen, a survivor of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's abuse, said.

The crowd, which consisted of students, survivors, parents of survivors, faculty, staff and other members of the community, heard from many speakers at the rally. Among these were survivors Morgan McCaul, Kaylee Lorincz, Amanda Thomashow and Posthuma-Vanderveen, students from Reclaim MSU, Board of Trustees candidate Justin Johnson and more. 

The rally follows the latest Board of Trustees meeting, where Lorincz accused Engler of offering her $250,000 to settle her lawsuit without her attorney present. 

Lorincz discussed her interaction with Engler at the rally, and added that after he allegedly asked her for a price, he said, "Everyone will get paid, those over 20, the neighbor girl, and even the 53-year-old. Now do you think that's fair?" Lorincz also read an email from Carol Viventi, vice president and special counsel to the president, which claimed that Lorincz's statement was false, to the crowd. 

"As if that all wasn’t painful enough, this past Wednesday MSU assaulted me once again when they accused me of lying at the board meeting,” Lorincz said. 


Also at the rally, Reclaim MSU discussed their two-part policy proposal to amend the Board of Trustees bylaws and the Michigan State Constitution. 

“As the board and Engler have demonstrated, this positive change informed by our discussions is not going to come from them. Instead, this change is going to come from us, the Spartan community," Natalie Rogers from Reclaim MSU said. "We are the ones who are willing to support survivors."  

Other organizations spoke before the crowd, including the president of the Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Anna Cumming. She works closely with victims of sexual assault and carries a pager on her at all times that alerts her when a person has been sexually assaulted. When it goes off, she drops everything to go to the hospital to be with them.

“To the Board of Trustees and President Engler, the way that you've handled these issues in the past few months is an embarrassment. I would say that you all should be ashamed of your actions, but frankly I don't think you feel anything except selfishness and greed,” Cumming said.  

McCaul, who partnered with Reclaim MSU to help organize the event, said this is about more than Nassar now. She said it is about a "widespread community" of alumni, donors, students, faculty, on-campus survivors and third party advocates working together to "demand cultural change and structural change for Michigan State University." 

She also addressed former President Lou Anna K. Simon's office in the newly-renovated Wills House to the crowd. 

"Because of the toxic, self-satisfied culture of the current Board of Trustees, Lou Anna K. Simon was rewarded with a multi-million dollar office and hundreds and thousands of dollars in salary," McCaul said. "This is blood money. This is money paid to the woman who could have kept my tiny 12-year-old body out of the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic all those years ago."

Thomashow spoke about how she loved MSU growing up and how this institution still has the opportunity to take the "winning position" in how it responds to sexual violence.

“That is not my president, that is not my board and they have proven that they are unfit to be yours," Thomashow said. "The unfortunate truth remains that up until now MSU's Board of Trustees and interim president have only shown the world the wrong way to respond. Nothing can describe the disappointment of putting your trust in an institution for your entire life, only to have it let you down."

Justin Johnson, a candidate for the MSU Board of Trustees, was one of the last speakers at the event. He said he was not at the rally to speak as a candidate. He was there to speak as an alumnus.  

“What we have on Michigan State’s campus is not justice,” Johnson said. "What survivors want is justice, but what they get from the administration is pushback. But we know that they have pushed on the wrong set of survivors." 

After two hours, the MSU Rally for Resignations came to a close. 

“It’s important for us to be here and listen to everyone and what they have to say," Siaira Milroy from Reclaim MSU said. "Because we are here to listen."

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