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MSU's sexual assault survivor fund returns

Posted: 8:32 PM, Feb 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-16 13:16:48Z
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Friday, Feb. 15, was the first meeting for the new interim president of Michigan State University, Satish Udpa.

In Friday's meeting, several major developments, including establishing a department of African American and African Studies in the College of Arts and Letters.

Another accomplishment was reopening the healing fund set up to help survivors of sexual abuse after the Larry Nassar scandal.

Former interim-President John Engler froze those funds in 2018 and broke a promise the university made to Larry Nassar survivors.

During the meeting, the board said that money for healing is necessary for the survivors and their families to heal.

"It became very obvious and evident that we needed to get something up and running quickly so that the mental health and counseling needs can be met immediately," said Dianne Byrum, MSU board of trustees chair.

This will not be the same fund as before, as the board is working on establishing a new one.

"It will be a third party administrator just like it was originally. We have not identified the third party administrator," said Byrum.

The fund could be available within days.

"That will have the protocols of the original fund in place so that people can start immediately to get the help that they need. They will get reimbursed since the fund had closed," said Byrum.

This is separate from the $500 million settlement with the more than 300 Larry Nassar survivors. The healing fund is meant to help cover the cost of therapy.

Survivors, staff, students and parents told the board restoring it will help the healing.

"Everyone has a different story but, at the end of the day, we are all humans. We breathe the same air, walk the same grounds and live through the realities of life together," said Haley Puskar, a Nassar survivor.

The fund Engler closed was $10 million. The board hasn't decided how much money will go into the new fund, Byrum said.