The working adults at Michigan State University have really screwed this thing up.
Which is why the purge to rid the school of faculty members and administrators that had anything to do with the Larry Nassar scandal, or the culture of sexual assault and abuse that has infested the campus for decades, will be led by the students.
“Out of the mouth of babes….” – Psalm 8:2.
As of right now, Michigan State’s president and athletic director have stepped down, and it can be assumed that more announcements are sure to come. At the end of the last week, multiple stories reported that sexual assault cases have been swept under the rug at the school that involved the men’s basketball and football teams.
Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio has been defiant, and called the allegations of mishandling sexual incidents as “completely false.”
“Every incident reported in that article was documented either by police or the Michigan State Title IX office. I’ve always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with sexual assault,” he said last Friday.
MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo has been a train wreck in front of reporters whenever he’s been asked about anything other than basketball for the past few weeks.
“I’ve cooperated with every investigation — every one,” said a red-faced and visibly drained Izzo after a 74-68 win over Maryland on Sunday. “And I’ll continue to cooperate with every investigation — every one.”
And apparently, even NCAA president Mark Emmert was allegedly alerted about what was going on at Michigan State when he came on in his role back in 2010.
Everywhere we turn in this situation, there seems to be an adult who either didn’t do enough, is in denial, or willingly turned a blind eye to what was going on.
Which is why the students at Michigan State have had to be the adults in the room.
“You don’t put up walls. This is real life. This is a terrible situation. This is something we’re going to use to tell our daughters one day, or our sons, especially. You can’t ignore it. You’ve got to listen to it. We have to listen. We have to discuss. That’s when you get answers.”
That’s what Cassius Winston recently told Brendan F. Quinn of The Athletic. The 19-year-old point guard for the Spartans’ basketball team is handling the pressure of answering questions with sincerity and humanity better than his 62-year-old coach.
While it could be unfair to Winston, the team may want to have him become their de facto spokesperson, as the sophomore has multiple quotes pertaining to Izzo, the team’s conduct, and the responsibility of a program:
Court react to Larry Nassar’s 175-year sentence
“He probably has the weight of the world on his shoulders and it’s our job as a team to help him out. We got his back. As much as he does for us, that’s the least we can do for him.”
“Lot of attention on us. A lot of eyes on us. It’s just the way it is. We’re representing the school right now and that’s how we’re putting it. We got to carry ourselves correctly off the court, and on the court, we have to show what Michigan State is about.”
“That’s part of the program. They’re building men first. Basketball is definitely big, but building men, building character — how you carry yourself and interact with people. That’s huge in this program.”
Although Winston’s words have been necessary and needed, it’s been the student journalists at Michigan State who have led the charge over the last few months.
Earlier this month, MSU’s student newspaper, “The State News,” called for former president Lou Anna Simon to resign in a front-page editorial that held back no punches against the woman who has become the face of the school’s neglect and inaction.
“President Lou Anna K. Simon, we now speak directly to you. Whether or not you admit guilt in this storyline, you need to do the right thing.
“Survivors of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse cannot move on without change. You ‘apologized’ to them, you have thrown money at them, but about the only thing you haven’t done is listen.
“Simon, if you’re the Spartan you claim to be, you will step down and bow out gracefully. We hope you make the right choice, because time’s up.”
The front page and the opinion sections of the newspaper’s website are also full of news coverage and commentary from student journalists who are holding the school accountable, as the paper is serving as a safe space for other students and victims to share their thoughts.
College is awesome.
But most importantly, for students, it’s a place to learn, explore, fail and succeed.
Most of the time in college, you learn more outside of the classroom than you do inside it.
And Michigan State students are learning a very vital life lesson right now: Nobody can protect your home, better than you can.