Is #TimeUp for Michigan State?

Students and teachers voice their attitudes toward Michigan State University regarding the Larry Nassar sexual assault case

March 22, 2018

The day you have anticipated since the moment you submitted your application has finally come. A green and white envelope is torn open as tears well in eyes at what they’ve just read: “Congratulations! You’re a Spartan!”

To some, this is the day they have dreamed of their whole lives. For future Spartans, getting accepted to a big name university is a big deal, but those dreams have turned into sour nightmares after the Larry Nassar sexual assault case of the former athletic trainer and doctor for Michigan State University, who sexually assaulted hundreds of women for years and had thousands of pornographic photos found on his computer.

This case has left future attendees and alumni in an awkward position.

“Personally I don’t have anything against Michigan State,” future Spartan and senior Jade Heaviland said, “but it kind of makes me uncomfortable and nervous that those type of things were going on there.”

This day has come and gone for alumni, though, and now they are trying to move forward from the situation with a mix of emotions, ranging from indifferent to supportive.

“I went to MSU and I loved my education there and it’s beautiful; my family and I visit the museums and eat by the river, but I didn’t have a dedication like maybe some people do because I think that’s kind of dangerous,” English teacher Pam Gower said. “I learned at a young age that what makes up an institution is people, and people make mistakes and are wrong. I don’t know that I’m completely down on MSU because I was never really up on MSU.”

For some, the road to education has just begun, and current MSU attendees like Principal Jefferey Trapp continue to show their support for the school regardless of the recent chain of events.

“I graduated from Michigan State, and I still continue to go to classes there, so my attitudes haven’t changed. It’s really, though, as far as looking out after the situation and trying to prevent this type of situation from happening in the future, and I think that they are going to take the proper procedures to do that,” Trapp said.

While some are indifferent with their attitudes, diehard Michigan State alumni are trying to protect the reputation and pride they have upheld for themselves for years as this issue persists.

“I think all alumni are struggling with this,” teacher Corey Baird said. “I don’t want to speak for all alumni but its like this stain that will always be there and it embarrases you, but my first experience with MSU as a kid was going to football games with my family.”

Baird has spent his entire lifetime supporting the school he so dearly loves, and the Larry Nassar case is not going to change that.

“I then chose to go to school there. I met some of my closest friends there. I met my wife at Michigan State. I grew in my faith at Michigan State. I got an excellent education in the teaching college at Michigan State. Nothing can change that. Yet this thing comes along and one guy with some people who didn’t step in and do what they’re supposed to do kind of tarnished that, and of course, anyone who lives anywhere else in the country makes an assumption about an entire school.”

The school interim president John Engler put out his first statement regarding the case on February 13 stating that, “While the investigations are ongoing, activity in lawsuits representing well over 100 survivors continues to move forward. I’m following the progress closely as we work to return to mediation and, I fervently hope, a just resolution that helps the survivors bring some closure to this horrific chapter in their lives. Michigan State, too, needs to heal and to emerge a stronger institution, one where safety, respect, and civility are hallmarks.”

Since his first statement, president Engler sent a second email to the MSU community on the current status of the actions.

“I have been meeting with many MSU community members and groups, and they have given me feedback on the weaknesses in our current approach, as well as very constructive suggestions to improve our response to someone who has been the victim of a sexual assault,” Engler said.

The school is now ready to take action and have since formed a Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup.

The workgroup will consist of “impressively qualified leaders from throughout MSU community” and will be committed to making actions regarding sexual misconduct.

“I feel like people working there knew about it and they hit it because they didn’t want the negative publicity to hurt them,” senior Savannah Porter said. “The workgroup should have already been there, because people get raped in college all the time and they need someone to help the through traumatic event.”

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