Sunday, July 5, 2020

Editorial: It’s On Us, but it’s also on MSU

<p>POSSE lit 505 luminaries signifying the known survivors of Larry Nassar on Oct. 10, 2019 at the East Lansing Public Library.</p>

POSSE lit 505 luminaries signifying the known survivors of Larry Nassar on Oct. 10, 2019 at the East Lansing Public Library.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

As the university takes part in the national It’s On Us Week of Action initiative, created to raise awareness of sexual assault on college campuses, its important message affects our community a little differently. Especially for anyone who’s paid attention to what’s been happening at our university for the past three years. 

This week, it’s on us to address the issue of sexual assault and to use the conversations we have to power change. From this week’s kickoff event, to actress and advocate Laverne Cox speaking on campus, to the Teal Out, community members are taking action to raise awareness. After all, we can’t put an end to sexual assault on college campuses if we don’t make a communal effort.

Yes, it’s on us. But it’s also on you, Michigan State. 

Because while we as individuals have a responsibility to learn and educate others about these issues, it’s also the university’s responsibility to do all it can to prevent campus sexual assault and to help those who have been affected.

It’s on you, MSU, when you once enabled a serial predator to work on campus, and when you took years to take any action to ensure nothing like that could ever happen again. We have not forgotten. Time and time again, the community has seen a lack of proactive change from the administration.

It’s on you, MSU, when people named in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights report — which concluded in September that the university failed to comply with Title IX regulations — are still employed at MSU.

It’s on you, MSU, to provide our community with closure, and drawing out the legal process does the opposite of that. 

Not providing all of the necessary documents to the Attorney General’s office for their investigation into MSU — an investigation the Board of Trustees asked for in January 2018 — does the opposite of that.

On Friday, survivors and parents of survivors lit luminaries outside of the East Lansing Public Library so that everyone will remember “there are over 500 individual girls affected by this,” a parent said.

Seeing hundreds of names, hundreds of lights all in one place speaks volumes. And they only represent those who reported.

This vigil — which a media release said symbolized the “wait survivors have had to experience for MSU to tell the truth” — took place prior to the new university president’s scheduled talk with survivors, which is one thing MSU can do to help the community heal. 

Another thing the university can do is get over protecting their public image. When the administration talks about healing and moving on, it’s hard not to think they only want to move on in their own terms.

Moving on doesn’t just mean selecting a permanent president. That’s not the last step in healing — in many ways, it’s still the beginning. 

The national It’s On Us initiative calls for action, not words. University officials have talked about how MSU can be an example to other institutions on how to move on after something like this happens. But, to this day, not much has been done. 

On the day the luminaries honoring survivors were lit, one survivor said, “For students, I want them to know (MSU) literally didn’t do anything.”

It’s not over, there’s so much more that can be done. And it’s on you, MSU, to make things right. 

The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Madison O’Connor, Managing Editor Mila Murray, Copy Chief Alan Hettinger, Campus Editor Kaitlyn Kelley, City Editor Evan Jones, Sports Editor Paolo Giannandrea, Photo Editor Sylvia Jarrus, Multimedia Editor Haley Sinclair, Social Media and Engagement Editor Wolfgang Ruth, Staff Representative Matt Schmucker and Diversity and Inclusion Representative Edwin Jaramillo.

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