EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Following students’ recent return to Michigan State University for the fall semester, trustees met for the first time Friday morning to mark the new academic year.
While they celebrated a new school year, the Larry Nassar scandal continues to cast shadows on the school’s East Lansing campus.
Public comment at the trustee meeting was the lowest seen in recent months, lasting only about 20 minutes. But one core group affected by Nassar’s abuse who’s turned out to recent meetings says they’ll keep coming until they feel truly heard.
Three of the speakers broke up their time reading direct quotes made by MSU leaders over the last 7 months to convey why people are still upset with how the university responded to the scandal.
One of those quotes was from MSU Interim President John Engler, made to the Lansing State Journal in June regarding some survivors who have called for his resignation.
“Some of what we’re hearing is unhappiness over the compromise. In other words, we didn’t get everything we wanted,” the quote read.
Natalie Venuto Hawkins, a sister of a Nassar survivor, and a survivor herself, said responses like Engler’s show MSU isn’t listening to those affected by the scandal.
“We just looked at all of the comments that have been made to the media in emails and on campus about survivors that show Michigan state was not really responding like we wanted them to,” she said.
Parents of survivors say that includes recent misses for trustees — not including a survivor on the presidential search committee — and allowing Engler to stay on as interim president during the search for his permanent replacement.
“It just shows that they really don’t care, to be perfectly honest with you,” said Bryan Tarrant, a parent of a survivor. “They’ve made their decisions that they’re going to do what they’re going to do they say the right things but their actions speak louder than words.”
Although the turnout for public comment on Friday was lower than previous meetings, Tarrant said he’ll keep demanding a response from MSU on policy change.
“The numbers may dwindle but the fact of the matter is there’s still those of us who are going to say, ‘It’s not enough, it’s not over, we need to make change,’” he said.
And while there is still pride in the green and white as the semester begins, at least one of the trustees, Brian Mosallam, said he’s committed to maintaining perspective.
“We obviously can’t forget the atrocities that we’re committed on this campus and how many little girls got hurt and how we failed them, we must continue to push forward with the positive changes,” Mosallam said.
During Friday’s meeting, the board of trustees approved the creation of MSU Health Care, which replaces the current MSU Health Team. The new group will join the university’s medical colleges with other health care groups “to nurture a culture of safety, foster cost-efficient clinical practice and increase research opportunities,” according to a release from MSU.
The next MSU Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26.