Dear Lou Anna Simon: Your Departure From MSU Is Tone-Deaf [OPINION]
Blame is inevitable, yes. But you need to accept some responsibility, too.
The Larry Nassar sexual assault trial has taken over the news- statewide, nationally and throughout the world. And for good reason: time's up. We will no longer accept this behavior as part of life. We will no longer be afraid to speak up. We will no longer allow you, and the organizations that protect you, to abuse us.
I say this as a sexual assault victim. I can relate to the Nassar case more than I want to admit; I, too, was sexually assaulted by my doctor. Without being too graphic, the similarities are...uncanny. The only difference is that I wasn't a minor and I wasn't an aspiring gymnast.
My doctor was protected by the healthcare company that he worked for - they had complaints against him on file for years before any of us called the police. And they allowed him to continue to practice medicine. The only contingency was that he MUST have a nurse in the room with ALL patients, which he didn't.
It's not even a slap on the wrist for such a serious accusation - it's a slap in the face to the women who reported him. It was acceptance of what he did, and a lame attempt at prevention.
Larry Nassar is no different, and neither is Michigan State University.
I get it, I really do - one of the first things I learned when I moved to Michigan was how devout this state is when it comes to MSU and the University of Michigan. So I understand why people are hesitant to take the Nassar case one step further up the chain and to hold MSU partially responsible.
Fortunately, it was announced yesterday that the NCAA has opened an investigation, so whether MSU fans support it or not, the truth will come out at some point.
It was also announced last night that, after several calls for her resignation, MSU President Lou Anna Simon has stepped down. Her statement included the following:
As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements.
As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me.
Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.
Ms. Simon, if I may - there was nothing "politicized" about this situation. This was a CRIME. You're not the sacrificial lamb - while your statement was somewhat apologetic, it could've been more empathetic. MSU blew off a lot of the complaints against Nassar, and yes - you are partially responsible.
However, it's not just Simon. It's kind of like the Flint Water Crisis - you can point the finger at Snyder, but there's a whole host of people below him responsible, and the same can be said here.
Simon said she didn't appear in court this week because she didn't want to take the attention off of the victims, but when she WAS there, her facial expressions said it all. She was there because she had to be.
College sports programs are the school's money makers. Nassar made the school a ton of money, plain and simple. And I have no doubt that the school blew off complaints and, possibly, covered them up in an attempt to save their cash and avoid embarrassment. It's the same thing that the healthcare company did for MY doctor, who went on to assault more than ten other women.
I'll be interested to see what the NCAA finds out in their investigation. Until then, with Nassar and Simon gone, hopefully, the victims can sleep a little bit better. But, as I know all too well, seeing the man who sexually assaulted you being led off to prison rarely offers any sense of comfort. It didn't for me, and it probably won't for all of his victims.