Tuesday, October 20, 2020

MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam opens up about reelection, Joel Ferguson

September 23, 2020
<p>A screenshot of MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam on ML Elrick&#x27;s Facebook Live.  </p>

A screenshot of MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam on ML Elrick's Facebook Live.

Six weeks out from the upcoming election, Michigan State Trustee Brian Mosallam is making a push to be reelected for a second term after making an appearance on Detroit Free Press investigative reporter ML Elrick's Facebook page. Mosallam’s “no-holds barred” interview lasted over twenty minutes as he discussed a wide variety of issues.

On Nov. 3, voters will have the opportunity to choose two new members to serve on the MSU Board of Trustees. Among Mosallam’s top competitors are Democratic candidate Rema Vassar and Republicans Pat O’ Keefe and former state senator Tonya Schuitmaker. Mosallam is looking to fill one of the two seats available on the Board of Trustees as current Trustee Joel Ferguson chose not to run for reelection.

Mosallam is looking to sell voters by showcasing his response to the Larry Nassar scandal that has plagued Michigan State’s campus for the last four years. In his Twitter reelection announcement, multiple survivors, including Rachael Denhollander — the first to publicly speak out about Nassar and his abuse — endorsed Mosallam for a second term.

“I think the main thing here is that in times of crisis, I was tested,” Mosallam said on Elrick’s Facebook Live. “I think when you look at the public positions that I took, I was very critical of the institution. I was the first to meet with survivors to publicly apologize to survivors. I held a town hall where no other trustee showed up but me.”

Despite support from some survivors, Mosallam doesn’t have support from all. In January 2020, Reclaim MSU called for the resignation of all of the legacy Board of Trustees members that remained in their seats, including Mosallam. Reclaim MSU cited the legacy members' lack of response to the atrocities committed by Nassar as well as the Board of Trustees appointment of interim MSU President John Engler who resigned after intense scrutiny from the MSU community.

Ferguson also faced heavy scrutiny for his handling of the Nassar scandal, specifically for his 2018 comments saying, “There’s so many more things going at the university than just this Nassar thing.” Mosallam was asked if there was any fighting behind the scenes with Ferguson during that time.

“What do you think,” Mosallam said on the Facebook Live. “I was infuriated. There are probably a lot of things that I can't say here because it would just inflame the situation. He just inflamed the situation. John Engler inflamed the situation. That's why I decided I'm done with this. I'm coming out to speak publicly of how I really believe. Your lawyers, I don't care if they're there to advise you, but you have to go with your gut on some of these things. I felt we obviously came across as tone-deaf. We came across, obviously, because of Joel's comments as insensitive.”

Mosallam also expressed extreme distaste for a 2018 article from ESPN that accused the Michigan State Athletic Department and its two biggest coaches at the time — Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo — of covering up sexual assault allegations on their individual athletic teams.

"I even declined an interview with ESPN Outside the Lines because I was disgusted with what they did with putting Coaches Izzo and Dantonio, two fine men, next to that pedophile,” Mosallam said. 

“Trying to make the correlation on some of those things, you can make an argument, but I think throwing their picture up next to him, I thought was in poor taste," he said. "That was the issue that I had more than anything.”

Mosallam also spoke about his plans for Michigan State moving forward, including his reluctance to discuss a tuition reduction due to online learning.

“The degree still says Michigan State,” Mosallam said. “They're still being taught by Michigan State instructors. Our job is to provide an education, 75% of the classes are already online. If there's any claims for any type of tuition reduction, it will be those that are losing lab time, research time within the labs. At the end of the day, we're an academic institution where most of these things are being done virtually any way.”

As football appears to be returning in October, Mosallam approved of its return, but not of its handling from a public relations standpoint.

“I think that the radio silence bundled with the PR piece of it I didn't like,” Mosallam said. “I thought that the diligence on the medical part, the medical task force put in place, the infrastructure they built for the extra testing, and the protocols that are in place are very impressive. Our president is an infectious disease doctor who has full confidence in their process, and he came back very supportive of it, which I support, especially being a former player.”

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