MSU Trustees, Simon face criticism over Nassar, Yiannopoulos

Feb 17, 2017

Today’s MSU Trustees meeting was tumultuous, with calls to do more to prevent sexual assaults on campus and for President Lou Anna Simon to resign over allowing controversial Breitbart News writer Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus last year.

The public comment portion of the board meeting saw a parade of students from the group By Any Means Necessary defending students who were arrested at the Yiannopolous event and urging President Simon to step down or be removed. Simon brushed off calls for her resignation, saying she had defended free speech and supported an alternative event in an effort to create a safe environment. “So if I'm to resign on the basis of defending free speech and safety," President Simon says, "I assume that's a pretty good basis to stand on.”

MSU alum Seth Kalis was arrested for obstruction at the Yiannopoulos event. He downplays President Simon’s free speech argument. "There’s no policy behind what Milo's saying," Kalis states. "he's not a politician. He is a hatemonger, absolutely. He called for the nuking of Mecca here at MSU. For them to bring that here and then call it free speech is laughable.”

Before the public comment at the meeting, Trustee Joel Ferguson said, quoting here, “President Simon isn’t going anywhere.”

Lou Anna Simon also addressed concerns over the criminal charges against Dr. Larry Nassar, the long-time physician accused of assaulting gymnasts from MSU and elsewhere, and the MSU football program, which has seen three so-far unnamed athletes and a staffer suspended over sexual misconduct allegations. She expressed concern about how the administration interacts with these stories while being unable to say anything in return. "They keep coming out with pieces that are not necessarily consistent with the full set of information we have," Simon explains. "I'm not able to say anything because of a number of constraints, so it's frustrating."

Earlier in the meeting, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Brian Breslin, read a statement on the Nassar matter. "As these matters are the subject of criminal investigation," the statement reads, "litigation, ongoing review, and various privacy laws, there are constraints on what the university can share publicly; however, MSU will continue to share key developments and information as appropriate."

An Ingham County judge ruled Friday that Dr. Larry Nassar will be tried on three counts of first degree sexual assault.