As Michigan State University continues to confront the effects of the Larry Nassar scandal, the surrounding community weighs in on whether the fallout could damage East Lansing’s reputation. Michigan State University is experiencing faculty resignations, disciplinary action, and ongoing investigation in the wake of its association with a sexual abuse scandal involving over 250 victim reports nationally. For East Lansing, the home city of MSU, collateral damage is still being assessed. “Obviously, people are thinking about the issue,” said Kathy Schaefer, a partner with Communications and Research, Inc., a public relations firm in East Lansing. “It’s in their minds.
When a crisis of tremendous magnitude occurs, it is sure to impact people on many different levels. This has been the case with the Larry Nassar crisis, as this issue has affected far more than just those affiliated with Michigan State University. Although people will most notably associate Nassar with Michigan State University, the rest of the city of East Lansing could suffer setbacks from this tragedy as well. Shanna Draheim is an alumnus of MSU, and current East Lansing City Council member and resident, as such she has a unique perspective on the crisis. “As a city official, I’m happy to see that steps are now being taken to address some of the structural failures on the part of MSU,” Draheim said.
Although the Larry Nassar situation might be detrimental for the reputation of Michigan State University, it does seem that the city surrounding the university will be able to survive from the repercussions. It does not seem that the incident will have a strong effect on the local economy. “Honestly I can’t see a connection on that one. I’m not sure why there would be a connection there,” said Tim Dempsey the director of East Lansing’s Planning, Building & Development Department. “ I can’t imagine how.
Following the Larry Nassar sentencing in January, there have been many discussions in East Lansing concerning rape culture at Michigan State University. Concerned community members shared their thoughts regarding this issue after the Nassar allegations blew up in the media. Kintla Striker, an East Lansing resident, owns her own yoga studio and has worked with many sexual assault survivors through yoga therapy. “I have been writing to the university for years about the number of sexual assault survivors that I see who feel unsupported and who feel too afraid to speak up at the university and about their care of sexual assault survivors,” said Striker. Striker explained that she has seen this issue for years, and that “the Nassar issue just blew it up.”
Focal Point has a front row seat to the worst sexual assault scandal in U.S. history. From a national to a local perspective, we dive into the Larry Nassar scandal and how the Michigan State community responded with support for survivors in demand for change.
In October, after an eight-month investigation, the NCAA announced it would not punish the University of North Carolina for allowing some of its student-athletes to take fake classes. The case is among the most recent academic scandals in NCAA sports, adding fuel to the debate over whether colleges which part of being a student-athlete is betting emphasized: academics or sports.
Alena Zachery-Ross is the Superintendent of Okemos Public Schools, hired just this year. She explains that Okemos Public Schools, while serving school of choice students, primarily focuses on serving the Okemos community. School of choice is a district optional program that allows students from one school district to chose another. This allows students and their families the option to choose what education they’re receiving, regardless of residency. “Our philosophy regarding school of choice is that there will be limited seating opportunities for non resident students,” Zachery-Ross said.
Q&A: Student organization doubles as a safe haven for minority students at MSU
The Black Lives Matter movement was born out of the outpouring of grief and frustration following the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 – a young, unarmed black man who was shot while walking in a gated neighborhood – and the subsequent acquittal of the man who killed him. In the five years since Martin’s death, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum, driven by the killings of Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and other black people at the hands of the police. The movement has grown into an international network of more than 30 chapters. College campuses across the country have used various platforms to respond to and/or participate in efforts led by Black Lives Matter. At Michigan State University, a student-run Christian organization encourages students to use religious faith as a tool to combat racial tension.
While the term ‘professor of practice’ is popping up in universities all around the country, few know what this title actually means. While MSU doesn’t technically recognize ‘professor of practice’ as an official title, this phrase can certainly be found on faculty bios in colleges and departments within the university.