A blunt message fell Sunday morning at the doors of Lansing State Journal subscribers, who likely include MSU President Lou Anna Simon.
"It's time for new leadership," says a bold, all-caps headline atop a front-page editorial, shown below this article.
The paper explains why "Simon is no longer the right person to lead Michigan State University."
One stark and significant failure . . . now overpowers all else: MSU’s inability to keep women safe from sexual assault and harassment on campus.
That failure belongs to Simon and her team. The time has come to hold her accountable.
Tawdry, long-term abuses by former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar are the foremost reason why "the Simon chapter must end," in the daily's words.
Simon and the trustees have been publicly silent on details of what Simon knew and when. . . . Not knowing until too late is as much a problem as knowing and doing nothing.
It’s time for her to resign. Failing that, MSU’s Board of Trustees should fire her.
The extraordinary presentation runs nearly 1,700 words and is credited to the editorial board, as is customary. The opinion editor, Matt Hund, earned a master's degree in environmental journalism at MSU in 2008 and was a communications coordinator for its Lyman Briggs College for a year before joining the paper in mid-2015.
Hund certainly consulted with Rebecca Poynter, the paper's president (publisher).
Trustees Affirm 'Complete Confidence'
In fairness, the daily gave MSU an advance heads-up and chance to respond. The State Journal posts and links to an eight-paragraph statement of support for the president, who "has the complete confidence of the Board of Trustees to lead the university in this and all endeavors."
The editorial board's call for fresh leadership cites "a problem deeper and more persistent than one man."
The year since Nassar was fired by MSU has been filled with other headlines of concern.
Four football players were charged with sexual assault. Journalists revealed that a former football player was expelled from a graduate studies program in 2016 and banned from campus after being accused of assaulting a student. . . .
More than 140 women and girls have filed federal lawsuits against Nassar, with the university as a defendant in many of those cases. . . .
Other women and men have sued over flaws in MSU’s Title IX process for investigating complaints of sexual assault, harassment and relationship violence. Those cases include instances where punishment meted out by a disciplinary board has been overturned by one of Simon’s vice presidents. ...
MSU’s most visible response to all of this has been to lawyer up. There are no less than five law firms engaged in providing various assistance to the university’s in-house counsel. As of last week, LSJ’s monitoring of legal billings showed well over $5 million has been spent. ...
By failing to fully understand the threats posed by the escalating Nassar crisis and the long-term shortcomings of MSU’s Title IX efforts, Simon has demonstrated an acute lack of leadership in the present.
That failure already has cost MSU too much in dollars and reputation. . . . For MSU to move forward, the Simon chapter must end.