Open Letter from the College of Education Community at Michigan State University
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As faculty and staff* in the College of Education, we write today, first and foremost, to express our resolute support to all of the survivors who have held Nassar and Michigan State University to account. We are deeply sorry for your pain, that so many did not believe you, and that this organization tragically and repeatedly failed you.
As a College of Education, our primary focus has and will always be on students: our students who are hurting, angry, confused, and, for some, looking to faculty for guidance. Yet we are also inspired and heartened by their efforts: by the demands made by fearless student journalists at The State News; by the student government representatives who issued statements, planned marches, and even sat on tables at the recent Board of Trustees meeting; and by the countless other students who are marching, writing, dialoguing, and showing us what it means to stand up for themselves and their peers. Our students are leading the way in resistance, and we aim to show them that we are listening and standing up, too.
We are horrified by the handling of Larry Nassar, the process surrounding the resignation of former President Simon, and the appointment of the new interim President, John Engler. We have watched in frustration as the voices of the MSU community have been silenced. First, the voices of the survivors of Nassar's abuse were neglected for decades, demonstrating a lack of accountability. And more recently, the voices of faculty, staff, and students were ignored when the Board of Trustees appointed John Engler to be Interim President, despite requests for a more thoughtful, inclusive process and outcome. The selection of Engler suggests that the University has chosen a protectionist rather than a reformation stance. Engler's appointment is one more example of how the Board has chosen to silence the concerns of students, faculty, staff, and perhaps most importantly at this moment, of survivors.
As a college of educators, leaders, psychologists, and kinesiologists, we feel compelled to use both our professional expertise and personal convictions to call for a more engaged process for supporting the survivors and choosing an interim president. We support the MSU faculty’s endorsement of a vote of No Confidence in the Board of Trustees and see this vote indicating an urgent need for the Board to revise the MSU governance processes so that faculty, staff, and students are integrated into all decision making. These processes should be transparent and public.
We stand with the various groups within the MSU community who have also issued statements, including the Council for Graduate Students (https://twitter.com/cogsmsu/status/958748407283306496 the Graduate Employees Union (http://geuatmsu.org/) the Residence Hall Association, and the ad hoc group, MSU Faculty for Institutional Change (https://msufic.wordpress.com/). This is a partial list, and we are heartened to see that every day more campus and community groups are adding their voices to the dialogue. In addition to supporting the letters offered by these groups, we also demand the following:
- The Administration, in consultation with Counseling and Sexual Assault Professionals, must create a process to support each and every patient who was seen by Nassar while he was employed as a Michigan State University. The nature of this process must be restorative.
- MSU Student Government, Faculty Senate, and remaining MSU administration must work collaboratively to create a process for appointing an Interim President. As this was not done with Engler’s appointment, he should now resign in order for a more collaborative process to take place.
- The Board of Trustees should move swiftly, with faculty consultation, to hire an experienced academic as its President. In all future hires of university officials, the Administration must commit to working meaningfully with faculty and student governance bodies in order to reform the protectionist and managerial culture that is MSU.
*We recognize that this letter does not represent the views and opinions of all faculty, staff, and students in the College of Education at Michigan State; however, this effort represents a critical mass of COE stakeholders who refuse to remain quiet while the BoT continues to make such egregious errors. Spartans Will remain united.
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