A terrible thing happened at Michigan State University. It has come to light only recently, and it ought to get us thinking seriously about what to do when subsidized colleges and universities ultimately have zero responsibility for their actions.
In this instance, at the very least, the Trump administration ought to pull federal funding due to what looks like serious Title IX violations and force the school into some austerity measures.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a Michigan native, expressed her concern over the situation in February, saying, “I am committed to ensuring all students have access to a learning environment free from sexual misconduct and discrimination and that all institutions that fall short will be held accountable for violations of federal law.”
I have a better idea: Freeze all federal funds for MSU and force the administration to beg for private donations, because the taxpayers aren’t given a choice and there has been some egregious malfeasance.
Larry Nassar received a kinesiology degree from the University of Michigan in 1985 and immediately began volunteering as an athletic trainer for the Olympic women’s gymnastics team. He was accepted into the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University and received his degree in 1993. In 1996, Nassar was hired by MSU as a faculty member, and in the same year, he became team doctor for the Olympic women’s gymnastics team. The complete history of his perversion is not yet completely known, but some reports claim he may have sexually molested around 250 girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.
Reports so far show that eight girls and women complained to various coaches, trainers, a psychologist, and others at MSU that Nassar had penetrated them digitally during their sessions. When confronted, Nassar assured every single adult that the girls confided in that his medical treatments were being misunderstood.
Finally, in 2014, Nassar was suspended after a woman filed a Title IX complaint that Nassar massaged her breast and genitals under her underwear while clearly sexually aroused. Title IX is a federal law stating in part that schools that receive federal funds must take immediate action to address sexual violence. But though the school suspended Nassar, it did not inform at least three other places of that suspension for sexual impropriety, and as a result, Nassar continued to treat girls at a Texas facility for elite Olympic-potential gymnasts, at a major gym in Lansing, and at Holt High School, where he was the sports doctor. A report suggests he may have molested around 20 girls while suspended from MSU.
The Title IX investigator, a female, relying on the testimony of three of Nassar’s colleagues, all women, determined that Nassar’s medical treatment was appropriate and the investigation was closed.
It wasn’t until the Indianapolis Star ran a story about the abuses and failures of USA Gymnastics, the governing body for the sport of gymnastics, to protect girls from coaches who were sexual predators that a woman named Rachael Denhollander emailed the Star with a story about the abuse she suffered from Nassar. Filing a criminal complaint with the police, Denhollander started the ball rolling to finally stop Larry Nassar.
After pleading guilty to possessing sado-masochistic child porn, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in a federal penitentiary, but he still had to stand trial for abuse. He pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct, and during his sentencing, he was confronted by upwards of 150 women who suffered all these years because of his abuse. If he makes it out of a federal prison in 60 years, he has another 40-175 to serve in Michigan.
The investigations are ongoing, and the numbers are astronomical. We currently have investigators investigating the original investigations. The investigations are costly to the state taxpayers. A report said that the interim president of the university, former Republican Governor John Engler, offered at least one of the victims a $250,000 settlement. This arbitrary number, leaked to the press, will most likely go up in these types of negotiations, sticking taxpayers with more and more of the bill for Larry Nassar’s crimes.
Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon resigned, but not before trustees made the argument, “Why should she have to pay for what someone else did?” Good question: Why the hell should I have to pay for what you did, Michigan State?
Simon was president when the Title IX complaint was filed in 2014, while information was suppressed that Nassar was being investigated for sexual impropriety, and when a Title IX investigation exonerated Nassar. And somehow the investigator remains at MSU as assistant counsel.
MSU is a public school that receives almost $7,000 per student from Michigan taxpayers, to the tune of around $250 million a year, and when this nightmare is over, it most assuredly will go up. Yet with all the legislation proposed to supposedly “fix” the problem, nobody seems to care about the outrage that the innocent and ethical are on the hook for what the depraved and the negligent did.
Jen Kuznicki is a contributor to Conservative Review, a blue-collar wife and mom, a political writer, humorist, and conservative activist, a seamstress by trade, and compelled to write. Follow her on Twitter @JenKuznicki.