When John Engler, former Michigan governor, took over as Michigan State University president after Lou Anna K. Simon resigned in January, some survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse were skeptical that he was the right person to get the university back on track. “I’m beyond disappointed,” Rachel Denhollander, the first woman to come forward and publicly accuse Nassar, wrote when the decision to name Engler to the interim post became public. She characterized Engler as a “deep political insider,” and argued that the university needed “outside accountability” to move forward.
Those misgivings have not abated. Since Engler took the reins, the university has settled with survivors for $500 million. But Engler have also antagonized the survivors, allegedly offering Kaylee Lorincz $250,000, without her attorney present, to drop her lawsuit. His emails show contempt; in one he accused Denhollander of receiving “kickbacks” from the plaintiffs’ attorney for her work and advocacy in the Nassar case.
These actions have led the survivors to call on the board of trustees to force Engler out:
“President Engler has only reinforced the culture of abuse at MSU. Our deepest concern is the impact his statements and behavior will have on survivors who are still living in silence, and in creating an unsafe environment on campus by communicating a demeaning and derogatory attitude towards survivors of abuse who still seek the confidence to speak up. This is not leadership. President Engler’s statements and behavior are subtle threats against anyone who dares to speak up against their abuser and the environment that enabled their predatory conduct, lest they be ridiculed, lied about, and shamelessly mocked by a person of immense power.”
Here’s the full statement: