Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Letters: Responses to John Engler's interview with The State News

<p>Interim president John Engler sits down with The State News on Nov. 28, 2018.&nbsp;</p>

Interim president John Engler sits down with The State News on Nov. 28, 2018. 

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Editor's note: This article features letters sent to the editor-in-chief about the Interim President John Engler's interview with The State News Editorial Board Nov. 30. Read the interview here. Minor edits have occurred for spelling, grammar or brevity.

By Anne M. Baker
Learning and talent development specialist for Michigan State University Extension

I believe (Engler's) statements are in inaccurate characterization of Reclaim MSU, whose members have worked tirelessly to promote change through an open presidential search process and faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. Kudos to them for their hard work and for caring about survivors of sexual assault, the integrity of MSU, and the processes related to university governance.


Kayla Galecka
Nassar survivor

First I would like to say thank you continuously writing factual, and educational information and supporting survivors. 

I am a Larry Nassar survivor who is not an MSU student, who does not have access to "free campus resources" in lieu of me not being able to see my therapist. I am insulted that John Engler believes that what we are doing as survivors to speak up, and advocate for change, is solely about the money. He has done zero good for the survivors, and to help MSU. 

I am curious as to why it was OK to continue to employ Larry Nassar while he was being investigated as well as all of his enablers, but it's not OK to keep the fund open to survivors who need it, who have been cleared of the fraudulent activity, while the investigation was ongoing? 


Gregory R. Frens
Fiscal Officer for International Studies and Programs

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty, staff, and student representation at the highest levels of governance. 

I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support ReclaimMSU and I oppose John Engler.  His unhelpful rhetoric and hostilely towards those of us trying to effect positive change from within MSU are what is to blame for the negative media coverage!

Engler’s vague dismissal of ReclaimMSU sounds very Trump-y.  I would hope The State News directly asks Mr. Engler if he has ever sat down with ReclaimMSU and has had an honest dialogue with them? Has he ever even tried to understand why we want transparency, accountability, and equity?


David Field
MSU alumnus

My feelings on this issue are complex, but let me say first: Reclaim MSU is a positive force seeking to give students and faculty real power in the decision making process of the administration. They are not responsible for the university's negative media coverage — at best, the inaction of the administration and at worst, the direct covering up of Larry Nassar's sexual assaults generated this media attention — all on its own. A student organization sees a fire, points to it, and starts shouting "FIRE!", it is not responsible for the resulting negative news coverage. 

Second, that "the general perception (of MSU) is very good" says more to me about the public's indifference to rape culture than it does about anything else. And yes, my experience of MSU is that it is very entrenched in rape culture. The State News own reporting on this has confirmed that "among female undergraduates, 24.8 percent experienced completed or attempted nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation," as opposed to the national average of 23.1 percent. 

I, like Engler, have been frustrated by Reclaim MSU's minimal generation of policy proposals. Their one and only proposal so far asks for a change to Michigan's constitution. Although I fully endorse this change, which would put two faculty, one undergraduate, and one graduate student onto each of the ruling boards of MSU, the University of Michigan and Wayne State. Enacting such a change does not have enough support to be feasible (by initiative, referendum, or bill). 

Nevertheless, Reclaim MSU is not responsible for the ineptitude of MSU's administration to address the issue of rape culture. Even a callous financial perspective shows that taking sexual assault claims seriously and being proactive about addressing the issue is cheaper than paying half a billion dollars in the resulting lawsuit — and that's just the Nassar survivors' lawsuit. 

Reclaim MSU's real strength is understanding how the administration's decisions effect survivors of sexual assault, especially regarding Nassar survivors. So when the administration cuts off the Healing Assistance Fund — which pays for the treatment of Nassar survivors — Reclaim MSU notices. 

Finally, let it be known that I fully support Reclaim MSU. I support their demand for an open presidential search process. I support their demand for faculty and student representation at the highest level. I fully support the immediate reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund.


Stephen Ciranna
Class of 2014 

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


T.J. Jourian
Class of 2002 and 2006

I am an alumnus of Michigan State University twice over. Personally, I have had enough of this so-called president's bumbling, ego-centered and ineffective leadership. 

If he sincerely believes that MSU has a "very good" perception currently, he is woefully mistaken and underlies his ignorance and his complete disconnect from ... the rest of the world? If he doesn't believe that, then he is a boldfaced liar, and I'm not sure which is a worse position for a so-called leader to hold. 

I not only support an open presidential search process, I also advocate that the Board of Trustees remove John Engler from any role of influence at Michigan State immediately. Enough is way beyond enough with this man. 

I also support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU, which is made up of way more than "a couple of faculty members, a couple of students."


Valentina Denzel
Associate Professor of French and 17th and 18th centuries French literature

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


Lewis H. Siegelbaum
Jack and Margaret Sweet Professor Emeritus of History

I spent 34 years in the History Department and in all that time I recall only one or two occasions in which the President of MSU has stated something so despicably ungenerous and untrue as Interim President Engler’s remarks quoted in the interview. 

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


Natasha Wright
Anthropology junior

I am a student and a survivor at Michigan State University. I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU. 


Michael Kuhn
MSU alumnus

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


Eric Petrie
James Madison College associate professor
 

I am a faculty member at Michigan State University. I have been very encouraged by the actions and activism of Reclaim MSU. I think that it is a positive force at the university, especially in light of the terrible effects of Larry Nassar’s activities and how they have been handled by the administration of MSU and its Board of Trustees. 


Kathryn Beard
MSU alumna 2004 and 2009

I am an alumna of Michigan State University. I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


Scott Smalley
MSU alumnus

I am a proud Spartan and travel North America and the world on business — smiling whenever I see “SPARTANS WILL” ads in airports around the globe. I have been active in supporting alumni activities in Tokyo, Japan, Michigan, here in Seattle and other cities I visited since graduating. 

I support an OPEN presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the HIGHEST levels of governance. I support the survivors and reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I am also an adamant supporter of RECLAIM MSU because I believe when you have a problem, you first have to admit it. This is where President Engler fails in his leadership at MSU.

ALL alumni I have spoken to the past year agree there MUST be a fundamental change at the top in East Lansing. The BOARD must take responsibility for the failures at all levels, as President Simon and AD Hollis have. (They need to) admit to our community that MUCH more needs to be done to prove to everyone outside East Lansing that Michigan State University CAN and WILL learn from this horrible experience to become a leader in helping protect future students, give support to survivors and show the world that MSU takes real, meaningful ACTION.

Change starts at our doorstep and thorough reflection and education Michigan State University can LEAD in positive ways to ensure there are NO MORE victims at MSU or anywhere, when “SPARTANS WILL”.


Mark Petritsch
Elementary education senior

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU. 

I hope that we can get a new administration who responds to the terrible things that have happened in a much better and timely manner. It is disappointing to me that what we have currently is very abysmal. 


Cody Mejeur
English Ph.D candidate 

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU. 

For far too long MSU has paid lip service to providing safe environments and protecting marginalized communities, while doing far too little to put those words into practice. Institutional transparency is essential to fixing the systemic problems and creating a safer and more supportive culture.


David E. Ware
MSU alumnus

I am an MSU alum, having earned two degrees from this University. My daughter, both parents and my sister are also alumni and our family has a great love for MSU. 

It is from this perspective that I want to clearly state my strong support for Reclaim MSU, as well as for FutureU and all other individuals and groups who care about this university and long for meaningful cultural change to match the rhetoric that Interim President Engler attempted to portray in his interview. I especially support survivors and call for the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund.


Mary Schulz
Associate Director of the Michigan State University Extension Center for Local Government Finance and Policy

First, thank you and all of the The State News' journalists and staff members for your work. The State News is an essential voice for all students, employees, alumnae, fans and supporters of the public institution of higher learning, Michigan State University. 

I support ReclaimMSU, an additional essential voice in our university. Mr. Engler is doing his job, part of which is to try to discredit and silence this voice.


Beth Herbel-Eisenmann
Mathematics Education professor

I am an alumni and Professor at Michigan State University. I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


Mary Beth Moss
MSU alumnus

Like many Spartans, I support an open presidential search process. Like many Spartans, I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. Like many Spartans, I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. Like many Spartans, I support Reclaim MSU. Like many Spartan students, faculty, alumni, staff, and survivors, I do not support the leadership being provided by Interim President John Engler. We must do better. 


Gene Burns
Professor of Social Relations & Policy

In an interview with the State News published on Nov. 30, Interim President Engler went out of his way to criticize Reclaim MSU, arguing that he’s heard criticism of the group from multiple sources (perhaps his supporters on the board who did an awful job on the Nassar outrage?) and that Reclaim had the support of just a couple faculty members and a couple of students and had no ideas.  

Reclaim MSU has had specific by-law proposals publicly available for quite some time, and the online petition in support of those proposals has hundreds and hundreds of signers from the MSU community, including very large numbers of faculty and students.

A couple months ago I was at one of the “listening sessions” concerning the presidential search, and it was very clear that there is deep and widespread dissatisfaction with the Board of Trustees, with interim President Engler, and with the search process.

The recently published piece by my colleague, Dr. Joy Rankin, alleging, and describing in detail, sexual harassment at Lyman Briggs College presents strong evidence that the university’s approach to sexual offenses is still deeply problematic. John Engler is not the person to lead MSU. He still dismisses the concerns.  He does not have the confidence of the community.  He should resign immediately.


Katie Paulot
Comparative cultures and politics and anthropology sophomore

I have worked with Reclaim MSU, and I continue to support their initiatives. As a student on this campus, I was rocked my freshman year as this university came under chaos. Reclaim MSU has been one of the few sources of hope I have for this institution to change and listen to students. This university is here for the students, without us, there is no university. 

I support an open presidential search. I support it because the future of this institution rests in transparency. We, the MSU community, were kept in the dark for too long under the last president and we continue to be bullied by John Engler. Engler says that Reclaim is responsible for bad press, but they are not the ones going against the wishes of the Spartan community, if anything they listen more than any upper administrator does. Without an open presidential search, I fear more cover ups and more lies, more victims and more bullying. We deserve better. Reclaim is fighting for us. 

I support faculty and students at the highest level of academic governance. I support transparency in my university. I want to be proud of my community, to feel it stands by me and my peers. 

Contiguous news of wrongdoings from my university scare me. Dr. Rankin deserved support from her university but got nothing but retaliation and disrespect. I stand with her to Fire MSU. My friend was treated disrespectfully via email from George Perles. John Engler continues to bully. I wonder where my university is going. 

I support Reclaim MSU. 


Nancy Bunge
Professor Emerita

I want you to know that more than a couple of faculty and students support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


Kevin Bird
Horticulture Ph.D student

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


Troy Stroud
MSU alumnus 

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty, staff and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU. 

I feel the board needs to replace Interim President John Engler as he is creating new problems and damage to MSU. He is replacing (the student information system) with no input from the majority of faculty or staff and causing long term damage to MSU that new president will have to send years and millions of dollars undoing. Replacing (the student information system) is a $40 to $80 million decision that no interim president should be allowed to make. His actions are with total disregard for the students, staff and faculty of MSU. His focus should have been healing and not creating new wounds. The bull in the china shop needs to go.


Mary Juzwik
Teacher eduction professor

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.


Jolyse Race
MSU alumnae 

I support an open presidential search process. I support faculty and student representation at the highest levels of governance. I support survivors and the reopening of the Healing Assistance Fund. I support Reclaim MSU.

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