One day after the Department of Education issued a historic $4.5 million fine against Michigan State University, the school’s trustees announced they would stop pursuing an independent investigation.
The school violated a federal law that requires clear and prompt reporting of crimes, including sexual assault and harassment.
It’s the highest fine ever issued for Clery Act violations, and the report implicated high-level university leaders for allowing the failure. The investigations by the Department of Education and Office of Civil Rights also implicated several other employees. MSU President Samuel Stanley, Jr. says he doesn’t think everyone employed during the time period investigated is involved.
“But I think we really need to look carefully at people who were named by the OCR report and understand," he says. "Because we do want to make sure that we are moving forward and this isn’t something that’s going to continue. But we really have to have information and data before we make these decisions. These are people’s lives involved as well.”
Stanley’s calls for due process were met with resistance from advocates who said they wanted more swift action.
Anna Pegler-Gordon is a Professor at MSU and member of Reclaim MSU. She says she appreciates the report and the new president’s tone, but it doesn’t absolve the school from waiving privilege in the state attorney general’s investigation or settling the second wave of lawsuits from people who say they are survivors of abuse by Larry Nassar.
“But that tone doesn’t really matter as long as the administration is agreeing with the attorneys and continuing to fight survivors,” she says.
Dianne Byrum, the chairwoman of the board, says there’s a split among trustees whether another investigation could accomplish anything new.
“What are we going to do with another investigation that has not already been done through OCR?" she says. "So, at this point we’re pausing that.”
The trustees announced they were pursuing an independent investigation in June after calls from survivors and advocates.
The school’s provost resigned on Thursday after the report implicated her in the failure. Survivors and advocates are calling for further resignations and for trustees to resign.