President Simon: Remarks to Board of Trustees on Larry Nassar investigation, April 13, 2017

"As victims continue to come forward to police regarding former MSU doctor Larry Nassar, I want to provide an update on our response to this critical situation.

During the past few months, much of our focus has necessarily been on the criminal investigation and ensuring justice is served for all victims. This will continue unabated. As you know, the MSU Police Department continues to aggressively investigate all allegations, dedicating more resources to this investigation than any other while working closely with the Michigan Attorney General and federal law enforcement officials in a case that spans jurisdictions, state lines and even international borders.

Yet even as we examine--through both criminal investigations and a thorough internal review--how something so abhorrent happened here and went on for so long, we are taking action.

Already, we have completed an initial review of MSU HeathTeam policies and practices and have strengthened policies regarding informed consent and the role of chaperones. We are now engaging a comprehensive third-party quality and safety assurance review as we continue our commitment to achieving the highest patient care and safety standards across all MSU clinics, which are being consolidated administratively and financially under the MSU HealthTeam.   

Second, I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows. That may be true, but we at MSU must do all we can not only to ensure the safety of our patients but to protect youth who come to our campus in all capacities. As part of a broader programmatic effort that began in 2013, we recently held a workshop for all MSU youth program directors that focused on promoting the safety of minors at MSU, and we will roll out an enhanced youth protection policy and additional education within the next 30 days.

Finally, we must continue to be resolute in our commitment that sexual violence has no place in the MSU community. As many of you know, we have dedicated significant resources to that commitment over the past few years, from introducing and revising our Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy to creating a new office to oversee Title IX and investigate cases to devoting more resources and personnel to our Sexual Assault Program. And just as important, our campus community has stepped up and is contributing greatly to these efforts. The Sexual Violence Advisory Committee and student leaders such as ASMSU and COGS are playing key roles, and we are grateful for their commitment.

While I take solace in the strong collective work of our community, this is no time to rest. Our progress is simply a reason to redouble our efforts. Sexual assault still plagues our campus and society at large. When we began the process of revamping our Title IX program in 2014, with guidance from both the federal government and external experts, we planned on revisiting our efforts once the program was running for a couple of years to gauge our progress and look at how we could continue to improve. Given all the issues surrounding sexual assault we face as a society and as a campus community, I feel it is prudent to move forward with this review on an expedited schedule. That’s why I will be engaging independent experts to conduct a top-to-bottom review of our Title IX program this fall to accelerate our progress here at MSU.

In closing, I want to once again recognize the courage of each woman who has come forward in the Nassar investigation to share her story with police. On behalf of Michigan State University, I want to acknowledge the pain his actions caused and express how deeply we regret any time someone in our community is a victim.

People come to MSU for a valuable and positive experience, whether for a degree, a summer program, or medical care. Sexual assault must not be part of that experience. While we may recognize that sexual assault and child abuse are societal issues, we cannot ever dismiss them as insurmountable. I am committed to making sure we do everything in our power to work together try to prevent this kind of tragedy in the future, both in our community and the greater society."

--President Lou Anna K. Simon