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MSU President Stanley to meet with Nassar survivors Thursday night

Posted at 4:14 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 18:04:49-04

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley met with Larry Nassar survivors for the first time Thursday night since taking office.

It was the first of three meetings for sexual assault survivors and organizers said the discussion was open to all survivors, but not the public.

Representatives from the university's sexual assault program joined survivors and their families to get input on how to better handle misconduct investigations.

Administrators are working to create a culture change after the Nassar Scandal flooded the university with questions and concerns from survivors and the community about how the investigation was handled.

"I think that President Stanley really wants to get a sense of umm the scope here and what survivors are looking for and what survivors need before we make any changes before we go in any specific direction I think it's really important uh for the relationship sexual misconduct uh work group to kind of have those voices involved," Tana Fedewa, MSU Center for Survivors director, said.

Those concerns are expected to be brought forth to President Stanley to develop plants to create a culture shift and renew trust with the university's administration.

Last spring, MSU conducted a campus-wide survey to find out how faculty and students viewed the university. More than 15,000 students, staff and faculty participated in the university's first-ever campus-wide survey.

The findings of that survey, along with input from Thursday night's meeting, will be reviewed by President Stanley to work on his plan to sustain a culture shift.

However, the meeting between President Stanley and MSU survivors did not come without some concerns.

Some worried the university was being "too open" with the meetings.

Concern came after MSU's website posted the date, time and location, but also an identification code for access to the online meetings.

The university said it is counting on the honor system to keep them private, but survivors see this as more of the same from MSU.

"It seems like MSU is saying you can have this, but only on our terms," Amanda Smith, a sexual assault survivor said.

Smith is a sexual assault survivor who has chosen to share her story, but she believes the meetings scheduled with President Stanley at very public places like the Union, East Lansing Library and online might deter some survivors from sharing their story.

"The people who are public would love to show up for these, its just important to realize the people that aren't public aren't gonna come to these because they don't want that anonymity to be given up," Smith said.

End Violence Encounters has worked with the advisors heading the meetings before, and although organizers say these meetings could be beneficial for survivors, one organizer agrees with Smith.

"The space that they are doing them at and the work-group that is going to be helping do these are very trauma-informed, however for survivors who might want more privacy, I think that the next step would be to have maybe an anonymous survey, or private meetings where people that aren't comfortable with that spotlight and want something more private can come forward and be given that same opportunity to share their voice," Rachel Swedburg, of End Violence Encounters said.

The meeting began at 6 p.m.

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