ASMSU discusses whether to call for Perles' resignation at informal meeting
An informal meeting was called after the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, had their first committee meetings of the fall 2018 semester on Thursday evening.
The call for the meeting was held in light of the recent lawsuit filed against MSU, which alleges ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar drugged and raped a former MSU athlete and that MSU Trustee George Perles interfered in an investigation into the abuse.
The James Madison College Student Senate has already officially passed a resolution calling for the resignation of Perles. However, ASMSU has stated it does not want to act hastily, as news about the lawsuit broke on Monday.
“We are having more of an informal discussion after committees are over to, first of all, go over some of the things that I learned and heard from the MSU spokesperson, to some trustees and then heard from the rest of the students,” ASMSU President Katherine “Cookie” Rifiotis said.
Rifiotis addressed the lawsuit and heard committee questions at the informal meeting.
“I think that different institutions or different leadership groups can have a lot of institutional respect for each other and that's what I hope that I can harness, regardless of who's here or who's there,” she said in regard to the Board of Trustees members. “It is very meaningful when something's going wrong with the university and you can just call them, or can just have a candid conversation and respectfully disagree, or come to some agreements on a variety of issues.”
As of right now, Perles’ term ends in 2023. One of the committee board members at the informal meeting asked Rifiotis if she felt that calling for his resignation at this time would be inappropriate for ASMSU.
“I don't know if they (calls for Perles' resignation) are inappropriate so much as they're hasty," Rifiotis said in response. “They're hasty because, if you don't have the full scope of the problem, how can you have the best attack?”
When hundreds of survivors of Nassar's sexual abuse, student groups, Trustee Brian Mosallam, Trustee Dianne Byrum and other members of the MSU community called for Interim President John Engler's resignation in the early summer, ASMSU did not.
Another committee member described the arguments that could be made against calling for Perles' resignation. They said action shouldn't be taken until the full scope of the issue is known and Perles and the administration have had time to make official statements.
They also argued that an early call for Perles' resignation could "completely go against" ASMSU's hard work to change the culture on campus.
Rifiotis said she has yet to actually meet Perles in person at a Board of Trustees meeting because he has been out due to illness for a number of months.