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Nassar scandal raises questions for MSU alumni, parents, and prospective students

Feb 2, 2018

​The entire Michigan State University community is carefully watching what happens in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

That includes parents who are alums and have children who are currently attending MSU.

Ann Gallagher, an ’87 graduate and Co-President of the Calhoun County Spartans’ Alumni Club, and Jim Cain, an ’89 graduate from the Journalism School, joined Stateside to discuss their concerns about how MSU has handled the scandal. Both have children currently attending MSU.

Listen above for the full conversation, or read highlights below.

On what their children — current MSU students — think of the scandal

While Cain’s daughter, who is an MSU student, is otherwise finding MSU hospitable, the scandal is unavoidable. For Cain, it casts doubt on the university’s ability to handle the sorts of institutional scandals that plagued Penn State and the Boy Scouts of America. “We’ve seen how this story plays out,” he said, “which makes it all the more disappointing when something happened at Michigan State, to see the way that the university has reacted and handled the matter.”

Gallagher has already gone through a similar experience with her children during the Catholic priest abuse scandal. She said her children “realize that this goes on and that, you know, adults abuse their power and their positions sometimes, unfortunately.” Gallagher said that her son, who is considering MSU for school next year, is not considering the scandal a factor in his decision. In fact, he was encouraged by the administration’s response, working with victims and victims’ rights groups.

On other sexual assault controversies at the school

Beyond the Nassar scandal, there’s also an ESPN report that accused MSU of skirting the procedure for sexual assault accusations against athletes. The report didn’t strike Gallagher as incriminating, and she has decided to take a “wait and see” approach. “A lot of alumni that I’ve talked to feel the same way, that, you know, you can’t play this stuff out in the court of public opinion, especially when one side has probably their hands tied for legal reasons,” she said.

Cain agreed, seeing the report as creating a false equivalency between neglect and ongoing predatory behavior by Nassar. “They’re very different, and they were handled differently, so it would appear,” he said.

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