GVSU administration is responding appropriately to Larry Nassar, MSU scandal

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 2/5/18 1:54am

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After the seismic wave of damning victim-survivor testimonies in the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, Michigan State University's staff, administration, internal review policies and reporting mechanisms are consequently being put under the microscope and scrutinized by the public. While MSU is beginning to suffer the (well-deserved) consequences of being called out for gross neglect of victim survivors, other universities are now being compelled to conduct their own internal reviews and investigations to avoid the public relations disaster that MSU is currently experiencing.

Grand Valley State University, which has close ties with MSU, is not exempt from the fallout and scrutiny of the Nassar case, but unlike at MSU, the administration here has been responding appropriately to the whole situation. While GVSU has dealt with its own backlash from sexual assaults on campus and off, administrators have been striving to maintain transparency, renovate policies where needed and promote education among GVSU community members. Now, more than ever, GVSU administration is trying to scrutinize its own reporting practices and make students aware of the options available to them.

At the GVSU Board of Trustees meeting Friday, Feb. 2, GVSU President Thomas Haas concluded his report by reaffirming the university's commitment to transparency and protecting its community members. He also said that in light of recent national issues, he had appointed members of his cabinets to conduct a review of the university's sexual assault policies. 

"As the nation's attention has focused on sexual assault in recent weeks, I think it's critical that Grand Valley uses this opportunity to assure our community and this board on these important matters," Haas said. "We take seriously our responsibility to care for our students, faculty and staff in addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment in all forms. 

"Our policies and procedures are continually assessed. However, I have appointed several members of my cabinet to lead the effort to re-examine our policies and procedures with regards to sexual assault and harassment. This includes looking at methods to educate our community on how to report sexual assault or sexual harassment and how survivors can seek support."

Hinting at the Nassar scandal, Haas emphasized that GVSU Athletics is governed by the same reporting and investigative policies as all other university departments and does not adhere to separate standards.

"We seek to hold people accountable for their behavior regardless of their role or position in our community," he said. "The athletic program is fully integrated into the university's system of reporting and investigating. There are no separate standards or processes for this program or any other.

"The university always investigates a report of sexual misconduct to the fullest extent possible. All measures are taken to ensure fair, equitable and timely investigation for all parties involved."

In one of GVSU's first steps to implement these assurances, "It's on Us As Lakers" is partnering with Title IX Coordinator Theresa Rowland and GVPD Acting Director Brandon DeHaan to educate students on reporting processes with "What’s Next?: The Process of Reporting with Title IX and GVPD.” The event will be held Tuesday, Feb. 6, in the Mary Idema Pew Library Multipurpose Room. A detective from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office will also be present. 

All in all, GVSU is currently taking all the right steps to promote transparency and keep its sexual assault policies updated in light of the Nassar scandal. Although there is a long road ahead when it comes to bringing justice to victims and preventing future cases, it is good to hear our own university president emphasizing the seriousness of addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment. 

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