Teal flood fills Board of Trustees meeting
Clad in teal and donning "Fire Engler" banners on their phones, protestors at today’s Board of Trustees meeting found an apology letter from MSU interim President John Engler on their seats Friday morning.
The apology letter stems from public outcry for Engler to resign after emails surfaced last week in which he accused Rachael Denhollander, a survivor of ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse, of receiving "kickback" from her attorneys.
Survivors and their parents, members of Reclaim MSU and concerned members of the public made up a large portion of those in attendance at the meeting. Every seat was filled.
One survivor's parent, Leslie Miller, was particularly vocal at the meeting. At the last board meeting, Miller and several other parents of survivors weren't allowed into the meeting until its final moments.
Miller used her time at the meeting to call out members of the board individually. She pleaded with them and said they were parents like her. She asked them "How do you sleep at night?"
“I want them to know we’re not going to stop until real change happens on this campus. The only way to make change is to keep being present,” Miller said. “We can’t continue to have business as normal, there has to be change here and they keep saying 'Oh there's change, there’s change.' No there’s not."
Among the speakers in the public comment section, Nassar survivor Morgan McCaul called out the administration for being "depraved" and for their "personal attacks."
McCaul brought up an alleged comment from Engler that was first reported by Detroit Free Press. The Free Press published a report about a meeting in which Engler walked into a room and told a team of event organizers to "get that teal shit out of here."
Teal has been a motif for acknowledging sexual assault survivors on MSU's campus
McCaul ripped Engler’s apology letter in half and demanded the board "Fire John Engler."
McCaul said she believes MSU campus is is in a state of emergency and desperately needs to “amputate Engler.” She said his words, though perhaps perceived small can have huge consequences for campus culture.
“I think that it’s a dangerous path to go on. It’s a small moment perhaps, but it marks a shift towards intolerance on this campus,” McCaul said. “Intolerance for something like sexual abuse, victims of sexual abuse and sexual abuse prevention and awareness, it’s scary.”
Another survivor spoke, Kaylee Lorincz, who at the last meeting was told by Engler to “be careful” when she accused him of trying to settle her civil lawsuit without her attorney present.
On one hand, Lorincz said she appreciated the apology Engler issued to the Spartan community about his email disparaging Denhollander, but on the other hand she said the pressure it took to get him to do so cheapens the sentiment.
She said Engler not knowing what he did was wrong before public outcry speaks to his lack of compassion, adding that comments like his don’t "get the ball rolling" for improvements on campus.
“I think there can be a very big culture change in a positive direction if he is not still here,” Lorincz said.
The crowd chanted "Shame on you, MSU” and demanded that Engler be fired. They were joined by two members of the board itself.
At the beginning of the meeting, Trustee Brian Mosallam motioned to terminate Engler as interim president. The motion was voted down 6-2. Dianne Byrum was the other trustee to vote yes. Byrum has stated in the past that Engler should no longer be the one to lead MSU.
In the meeting, the board approved items such as the university's 2019-20 budget guidelines which included items such as the creation of 13 new Title IX-related positions.
At the close of the meeting, Trustee Joel Ferguson extended his congratulations to his fellow board members for all their hard work.
"Every one of them, some are more vocal than others, is extremely sensitive and extremely aware of what has happened," Ferguson said.