House Speaker Tom Leonard calling for the resignation of Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon due to the university failing young women who were sexually assaulted by former gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar. Leonard, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Attorney General in 2018, expressed his concerns over the university’s handling in a Facebook post.
“In light of your failing, it is time for the U.S. Department of Justice, the F.B.I., the Michigan State Police, and the Attorney General to put witnesses under oath, find out who knew what and when, and get to the bottom of what happened. [...] At best, you have clearly proven yourself grossly incompetent. At worst, you are covering something up and shielding bad actors from the justice these victims deserve."
Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct covering nine victims in Eaton and Ingham counties. In an interview on Dec. 11, Leonard cited the lack of reports from MSU’s outside counsel and the university’s handling of a Title IX investigation into Nassar back in 2014. He is the first high-ranking politician to call for her resignation.
It is no secret that MSU has a serious sexual assault problem. Several men and women sued the university for flaws in MSU’s Title IX investigation process.
A 2015 finding by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that MSU mishandled the Title IX complaints they received and may have contributed to a “sexually hostile environment.” They go on further to say delays in responding to sexual assault and harassment complaints created an “unsafe environment for many who dealt with prolonged investigations.”
In April 2017, Simon announced an independent review of the university’s Title IX program. In her statement she tells her Board of Trustees she has been told that it is “virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile.” Yikes.
Back to the question at hand: Is it time for President Simon to Resign? The answer is yes. Regardless of the numerous accomplishments of Simon’s 12-year tenure at Michigan State, the handling Title IX investigations is a huge, dark, highly noticeable stain on Simon’s career.
If it is true that MSU could have stopped Larry Nassar earlier, this would tell us how lazy and irresponsible MSU is at handling Title IX investigations. Another seriously prolonged investigation done by Simon and her team is damaging to the safety of this campus.
It is important that we kick abusers off campus to make our learning environment as safe and welcoming at all times.