Three Michigan lawmakers have released statements regarding fines issued to Michigan State University.
U.S. House Rep. Elissa Slotkin released a statement in support of the Department of Education after the department's Office of Civil Rights announced a $4.5 million fine issued to Michigan State University for its failure to protect students from sexual abuse.
“I welcome today’s announcement that the Department of Education is holding Michigan State University accountable," Slotkin said. "I will continue to stand with the survivors of sexual assault at MSU and in our community."
While Slotkin said she appreciated the DOE's actions, she condemned the department's secretary.
"I remain deeply concerned by Secretary Betsy DeVos’ approach to the issue of campus sexual assault, as she is currently working to water down Title IX protections."
Slotkin's specific concern relates to Secretary DeVos rolling back Title IX protections that allow the federal government to investigate university cases of sexual assault.
State Rep. Julie Brixie (D-69) joined in the rebuke of MSU's Title IX violations, saying in a statement she stood with survivors of sexual assault both at MSU and nationally.
"We need real culture change at MSU, which means that anyone who violates our trust is held accountable before an outside entity is forced to step in to do so."
Brixie also called on the MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr. to formally apologize.
"President Stanley must begin by apologizing on behalf of the university rather than ‘echoing’ a previous apology by a previous president," Brixie said.
Brixie's full press release can be read on the House Democrats website.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) also released a statement regarding the Title IX violations, saying "“The toxic environment that allowed Larry Nassar and William Strampel to get away with their abuses needs to be eliminated. University leadership must be held accountable so that what happened at MSU can never happen again — anywhere."
Peters also touted support for his bill known as the ALERT Act. Peters says that this bipartisan bill would require university leadership to manually review reports of sexual assault committed by university employees. "I’ll continue working to pass this bill, because ‘I didn’t know’ can never be an excuse again," Peters said.
Peters' full press release can be found on his website.
Slotkin warns the new Title IX rules would prevent sexual assault survivors from enacting Title IX claims if the assault occurred off campus, or if the survivor reported the incident to a non-Title IX coordinator.