This week, a Michigan State University trustee called for a "new day" at the school: A change of culture that apologizes, admits failure, and offers justice instead of the institution positioning itself defensively.
That statement by MSU trustee Brian Mosallam comes during continuing fallout connected with the scandal of former MSU doctor Larry Nassar sexually assaulting many girls and young women and insisting it was a medical treatment.
Now, Mosallam is calling for more transparency and accountability at the university.
“I think we need to change our posture of being so defensive and really begin to implement real reform,” he says. “This is a plan that I’ve been working on for three months after my town hall … and listening to hundreds of voices across the campus and campus stakeholders, and something that I’ve really from a policy perspective thought about and crafted over the last 90 days.”
Members of the Board of Trustees apologize to the survivors of Nassar’s abuse before, but then the university turned around and began defending itself from those very same survivors’ lawsuits, causing many of them to question the sincerity of those apologies.
Mosallam says, “I think the posture, initially, is lawsuits were filed … and we were looking at things from a legal perspective. And I think as an institution, you have an obligation to look at things beyond the legal perspective. We have to look at things ethically and morally.”
Part of Mosallam’s plan is forming a sexual misconduct survivors’ advisory committee, which he says will ensure that the board makes changes that satisfy survivors' goals.
“Going forward in an ongoing dialogue, they have to be part of this reform. The university can’t move past what has transpired without their input and their belief that we have implemented true reform.”
Mosallam has called for an independent, external review into the Nassar matter “for the sake of transparency,” despite the fact that the state attorney general’s office is already conducting such a review.
He says, “The AG’s focus is on criminality. I’m talking about accountability. I’m talking about what transpired, where were the failures [that let Nassar] slip through the cracks, and ultimately [who was responsible].”
But as to whether the Board of Trustees should step down, as many have called for, Mosallam says changing leaders and terminating people can only go so far in terms of accountability.
“I think ultimately, implementation of this plan and reform is going to change culture.”