MSU Interim President John Engler, Survivor Talk $500 Million Nassar Settlement

Cheyna Roth/MPRN

Interim Michigan State University President John Engler at a Board of Trustees meeting earlier this year.

On Wednesday, a bombshell report exploded in Michigan and across the nation as Michigan State University announced a $500 million settlement with more than 300 survivors of sexual assault at the hands of former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar.

But what does the settlement mean and how will the major public university cover such a large bill?

Former Michigan governor, and interim president of MSU, John Engler speaks with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about what the provisions of the agreement will mean for the university and the MSU community moving forward.

Engler says that MSU looks at the “Nassar lawsuits as related to Larry Nassar and the crimes of one doctor. This settlement…perhaps begins to close that part off.”

This ”is just the beginning, in many ways, of the national #MeToo Movement and the relationship between men and women,” he adds.

Engler acknowledges that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to re-establish trust on campus.

We are scrubbing every policy, every procedure, every program that deals with these kinds of questions on our campus.”

Amanda Thomashow, a Nassar survivor considering a run for MSU’s Board of Trustees, also joins the program to talk more about the fallout of the Nassar settlement.

Thomashow says reaching the settlement is a good start, but “there’s a lot more work to be done on that campus and campuses across the country. This has only just begun.”

Thomashow was one of the first people to report Nassar to MSU — something she did in 2014.

The fact that they’re still claiming they didn’t know about Nassar until 2016…is troubling.”

Thomashow describes the two years between when she first reported Nassar and when MSU says it first found out about the abuse. She calls it “a really difficult time.”

When you know that you were sexually assaulted, and you’re told that you don’t understand what sexual assault is, you spend your days questioning your own self-worth,” she says.  

Jeff Hunt, a crisis management, communications, and preparedness expert at PulsePoint, appears on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson as well. Hunt was hired by Penn State University to help repair the damage in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

In order for MSU to move forward, Hunt recommends that the university be even more transparent about what happened and what will happen moving forward. But, “until the victims feel the cultural change is happening, it’s not happening.”

Michigan Public Radio Network reporters Rick Pluta and Cheyna Roth also speak about the settlement on Detroit Today.  

Click on the audio player above for the full conversation. 

Image credit: Cheyna Roth/MPRN

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