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US Dept. of Ed. accuses MSU of violating federal campus safety laws

The "Sparty" statue on the MSU campus
Betsy Weber
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A 46-page report from the U.S. Department of Education claims Michigan State University displayed "a lack of institutional control" in the handling of the Larry Nassar scandal, and has violated federal campus safety laws for years.

The report accuses MSU of violating the Clery Act. The act requires colleges and universities that receive federal money to report crime statistics and security concerns, including sexual assaults.

According to the report, university officials repeatedly failed to report crimes and disclose accurate crime statistics. Students were not always warned of possible criminal threats, and people responsible for reporting crimes were not properly trained.

Four main findings by DOE

The report cites four major violations of the Clery Act by the university. The first is a failure to properly classify reported incidents and disclose crime statistics. This is because the university "did not include the sex crimes that Nassar committed."

The report details 11 instances when victims of Nassar reported the abuse to an MSU authority, who then failed to act properly, including some previously unreported instances in 2015, 2016, and between 2008 and 2010.

In one example from 2016, a former MSU athlete told her former strength and conditioning coach that Nassar had abused her. The coach ignored protocol and instead of properly disclosing the information, he told an unnamed associate director of athletics at MSU. The coach then told the survivor that a "big investigation" would begin. However, according to the report, neither he nor the associate director properly reported the abuse allegation.

The second finding from the report was MSU's failure to issue timely warnings in accordance with federal regulations, because students were not warned of Nassar's abuse, as well as for 21 crimes committed between 2011 and 2016. These crimes occurred just outside Greek housing and burglaries in which students had not been properly notified.

The final findings were failures in training and a lack of administrative capability in handling Clery Act issues.

MSU's application for re-certification to receive federal financial aid is now on hold, due to the findings of the report.

MSUissued a response highlighting the school's "commitment to campus safety."

"We appreciate the expertise and efforts of the Department of Education investigators. The university is committed to cooperating with the department and is carefully reviewing the preliminary findings. Our staff will continue to focus on making improvements to ensure accurate and transparent reporting on campus crime policy and statistics. It is our goal to be in full compliance with Clery Act requirements, which is one of the many ways we are working to strengthen campus safety."

This is a developing story.

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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