$500 Million for Nassar survivors: Only the beginning of a very long healing process.


DK ONLINE: This week it was reported that officials at Michigan State University have agreed to a $500 million settlement with the sexual assault survivors of Larry Nassar, the former school employee and U.S. Olympics physician convicted earlier this year of abusing numerous girls and women under the guise of medical treatment. The settlement is an important first step, but so much more work remains as the institution continues structural reforms, cooperates with ongoing investigations, and most importantly restores the faith many in the University community have lost.

Below is a piece I wrote back in January discussing some of the case, and the difficulty of processing the horror of something happening in a place I love so dearly. Perhaps it’s also how thousands of Spartans around the world still feel.

To Spartan Nation:

It has been a very sad and difficult time for the Michigan State University Community; both in mid-Michigan and around the world. Firstly, and above all else, my heart aches for the brave Sister Survivors who were victimized by someone who went against everything that goodness, honor and decency stand for. It has been ghastly listening to the victim-impact statements against Larry Nassar in recent days.

Yet at the same time it has been inspiring to see their courage in facing a monster who stole their innocence and betrayed their trust when he was sought out to restore them to good health and keep them safe in the process. I have always considered the Spartan Community to be a family; one I’m truly honored to be part of.

Michigan State soil is sacred. The fact that Nassar’s despicable acts took place on a campus I love so much sickens me beyond belief. This hurts us as Spartans but more importantly it hurts us as human beings.

A change in University leadership was simply inevitable, especially given the growing choir for such change. There are still many questions about what senior leadership knew. That’s not the point of this writing at the moment, though I am very much interested in the findings that will be produced by the independent probes of the Michigan attorney general and the NCAA. In time we will know everything there is to know about this and make certain it never happens again.

Spartans rise up in the face of adversity. We fight our way through difficult times. We look after each other. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. It’s in our green and white blood. It is part of the reason faith in our institution has understandably been shaken with the travesty that took place and one man’s evil acts.

Nevertheless, we will rise and make our way through this, praying for the healing of the victims and our Community.

So many of us found some of our best experiences, friendships and most meaningful relationships at MSU. I’m no exception.

I found so much of myself at State. It’s where I learned the basics of news during a week-long journalism camp while I was still in high school. Then came the incredible experience at Boy’s State where I learned all about state government through a simulation program sponsored by the patriots over at The American Legion.

It was the same year MSU would win the national championship in basketball, so that added an extra smile to my face at the time.

Given all of that, it was no surprise that while I applied to some other schools, Michigan State is where I really wanted to go. The Good Lord blessed me with that very opportunity in 2001.

Throughout my time as a student in East Lansing I got involved in the community and found myself surrounded by the very best kind of people: people who love making wonderful contributions to our society, while standing with honor and integrity. Yes, you can find great people like that in many places, but the people of MSU are a special group.

If you were to take every student, faculty or staff member, or anyone else on that campus and bus them away to a different place, what would you have? Nothing but several plots of land, farm space and empty buildings. That’s not an institution.

It’s the good people of the MSU Community who don’t just make the institution but make it one worthy of the love and respect it deserves. It is represented in the great things our fellow alumni do around the world every day.

I stand with the overwhelming majority of the 50,019 students from every county in Michigan, all 50 states and more than 130 countries on Earth, in addition to the nearly 13,000 faculty and staff members who work their tails off every day for a better world, truly advancing knowledge and transforming lives in every positive way imaginable. This is why I have always been proud to be a Spartan, and always will be.

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