Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Editorial: Trustees, it's time to release the documents

<p>A woman wears a teal ribbon during a Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 13, 2019 at the Hannah Administration Building. </p>

A woman wears a teal ribbon during a Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 13, 2019 at the Hannah Administration Building.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Michigan State University Board of Trustees, you requested an investigation into the extent of the institution’s knowledge concerning a convicted serial sexual predator in 2018.

Yet, you stonewall nearly 10,000 pages from the public eye. 

One former Trustee, Nancy Schlichting, resigned because of the disagreement. Her appointed replacement, Renee Knake, is the only trustee to have fully reviewed every page. 

After her review, Knake said the documents did not  bring any new information to light — if that’s the case, why not release them? 

Survivors deserve to know. So do the students and the public.

The answer the board gives is simple — attorney client privilege.” Specifically when it comes to insurance. MSU has an ongoing legal dispute seeking reimbursement for its settlement payments. 

 Should MSU heed the calls to release these documents, it’s fair to redact legal opinions from university lawyers.

Certainly, lawyers can say more than they need to, but that can’t be the entirety of the withheld documents. 

Unless of course, the files reveal more insight into who knew of Larry Nassar’s abuse but failed to report it. 

But Knake has indicated this is not the case. Everything survivors, the public and insurance litigators could find is available in a 2018 letter from the law firm representing MSU to the Michigan House of Representatives and two federal “employee review” reports on Nassar and his previous boss, William Strampel, Knake said.     

Nevertheless, Knake’s recommendation is to have the documents published after an independent review.

We agree. 

Whatever responsibility may exist from withholding information from insurance companies does not outweigh the public interest in finding how the abuse was covered up for so long. 

Michigan State can neither take back its actions in allowing a predator to remain employed nor repair the damage done. 

Perhaps, with transparency, MSU can move forward with the accountability to prevent abuse and cover ups of abuse in the future. 

Release the documents, Trustees. It’s time.

The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Evan Jones, Managing Editor SaMya Overall, Campus Desk Editor Karly Graham, City Desk Editor Sophia Kalakailo, Culture Desk Editor Kaishi Chhabra, Sports Desk Editor Joe Dandron, Copy Chief Mark Ostermeyer, Audience Engagement Editor Julian Stainback, Multimedia Manager Tessa Osborne, Photo Editor Alyte Katilius, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Inna Mirzoyan and Staff Rep. Wendy Guzman.

This editorial is part of the 'We Can't Forget' print issue. Read the entire issue
here. 

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