Friday, June 5, 2020

Editor's note: One year after Larry Nassar

January 24, 2019

This originally ran as an editor's note at the front of the Jan. 24, 2019, print issue of The State News. 

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One year ago, to date, Lou Anna K. Simon resigned after an embattled end to her tenure at Michigan State.  

This edition marks a year without Simon; a year after Larry Nassar’s sentencing; a year of changes to campus.

This paper looks at bold, brave women who are leading the charge for change — an army of women who came together under the worst circumstances but never lost faith in themselves; a now 16-year-old girl whose words inspired others; museum exhibits to honor survivors.

It has been a year since Nassar was in court for his sentencings, but this edition is about more than that. I hope you close this paper with newfound admiration for the people who refused to give up on demanding change and insisting MSU be held accountable. While that job is not finished, it’s important to take the time to appreciate what has changed. 

There is hope that the new interim president, Satish Udpa, is better suited for the job than John Engler was. There is hope the new Board of Trustees members will bring positive change. There is hope that the new president — whoever they may be — will lead MSU in a way students and alumni can be proud of again.

I desperately want to believe my hope is not in vain. I started at MSU in fall 2015, a year before the first IndyStar report detailing Nassar’s abuse. Since then, I have watched MSU squander chance after chance to make meaningful changes and take responsibility for its failures.

It’s hard to respect MSU’s administration after I sat in the courtroom for Nassar’s sentencing, listening to women and girls describe how institutional failure allowed sexual abuse to continue for more than 20 years. A new interim president — even a new president — won’t be able to make necessary institutional changes without the support of all people in positions of power. The failures that allowed Nassar to remain hidden are not just Simon’s failures. 

They are the failures of Nassar’s former boss William Strampel, of former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, of all the athletic trainers who didn’t say anything, of everybody who knew and silenced those who tried to speak out. 

It is up to professors, deans, advisors, administrators and coaches to refuse to be complacent. Without their commitment to changing culture at MSU, nothing will happen. I want to believe this change is happening, but it seems like every time I start to believe, another story breaks about somebody’s inappropriate actions.

So yes, it is hard for me to have hope for meaningful changes, but the stories told throughout these pages make it a little bit easier, and I hope it does the same for you.

View a digital copy of the print edition here.

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