Sunday, July 12, 2020

120 Nassar survivors call for Engler to resign as interim president

June 19, 2018
<p>Interim President John Engler looks down during the Board of Trustees meeting on April 13, 2018 at Hannah Administration Building. (C.J. Weiss | The State News)</p>

Interim President John Engler looks down during the Board of Trustees meeting on April 13, 2018 at Hannah Administration Building. (C.J. Weiss | The State News)

A letter signed by 120 survivors of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse calls for Interim President John Engler to leave his position at MSU and for select members of the Board of Trustees to force him to resign. 

In the letter, survivors said that Engler has "failed miserably" and leaders at the university have failed to listen to their concerns. 

"We, the sister survivors of Larry Nassar's horrific sexual abuse, stand together against the recent character attacks made towards us and derogatory statements aimed at all survivors of sexual abuse by Michigan State University President John Engler," the letter said. "While our hope had been that President Engler would bring accountability, transparency, and change to MSU, it is clear to us that he cannot."

The letter said that Engler has reinforced the abusive culture at MSU, rather than taking action to change it.

"President Engler's abhorrent behavior-including gaveling down a survivor who only wanted him to listen and belligerently abrasive statements unmasking a survivor who only sought the comforts of confidentiality-has sent a chilling message across MSU's campus, causing damage that cannot be repaired until he is gone," the letter said. 

The survivors address emails released in a recent article by the Chronicle of Higher Education. In the emails, Engler said survivor Rachael Denhollander was likely to get a "kickback" from her lawyer, John Manly, for her role in the "trial lawyer manipulation."

"The most recent public disclosure of emails only further reveals the damaging mindset he has towards sexual abuse survivors who come forward," the letter said. "President Engler clearly views sexual abuse survivors as either manipulators out to use people for personal gain."

The letter also calls for Trustees Melanie Foster, Brian Breslin, Mitch Lyons, Joel Ferguson, Dan Kelly and George Perles to stand against Engler's words against the survivors of Nassar and other survivors of sexual abuse.

So far, Trustees Brian Mosallam and Dianne Byrum have supported Engler's removal at the university.

"We call on them to stand for what is right by demanding President Engler's immediate resignation, and removing him if he refuses to resign," the letter said. "The lack of courage these trustees have displayed to this point is discouraging, and their silence is deafening."

The survivors said in the letter that, although they have settled their lawsuit against the university, their "determination to make sure that no child, student, or anyone else is ever abused on MSU's campus or by one of its employees again will not cease until MSU has a leadership who creates an environment where no child, student or person fears to speak up and their tears are wiped away while a comforting ear listens to their cries."

The Board of Trustees meeting leading up to the 2018-2019 school year will take place on Friday, June 22, where there will be a "Solidarity for Survivors" rally hosted by survivor Morgan McCaul and student group Reclaim MSU. 

Survivors and other members of the MSU community have listed several demands for the meeting. Engler's termination is one of those demands. 

Update at 3:03 p.m. on Tuesday: 13 more survivors added their names to the letter calling for Engler's termination.  

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