More than 7,800 Spartans will graduate on Friday and Saturday, but not all of them will leave with fond memories of their alma mater.
That’s after a 2017-18 school year that was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Among them:
- The scandal involving former MSU doctor Larry Nassar. He pleaded guilty to federal child porn charges and state charges of sexually assaulting female patients under the guise of treatment. While he only pleaded guilty to assaulting a handful of women and girls, some 250 people showed up at his sentencings in Ingham and Eaton counties to make victim impact statements. Their statements and stories gripped the nation. Nassar was ultimately sentenced to 60 years for the child porn charges and more than 100 years on the state sex assault charges.
- The resignation of MSU President Lou Anna Simon. MSU was criticized for its handling of the Nassar scandal and it’s treatment of the Nassar survivors. Much of the ire was focused on Simon, who stepped down under pressure after Nassar’s sentencing in Ingham County.
- The resignation/retirement of Mark Hollis. Hollis, the longtime Athletic Director, stepped down in the middle of the year – just days before a documentary by ESPN that criticized the school and the athletic department for its handling of sexual assault allegations against Spartan athletes.
- The arrest of former dean William Strampel. Strampel, Nassar’s former boss, faces his own criminal charges for sexual assault and misconduct in office. Strampel, who is protected by tenure, remains on the MSU staff, though the school has made motions toward revoking his tenure and firing him.
Many of the students and staff also criticized the MSU Board of Trustees for its support or Simon and its handling of the sexual assault scandal. Board member Joel Ferguson told a radio interview that there was more going on at Michigan State “than just this Nassar thing.”
They were also upset by the appointment of former Governor John Engler as MSU’s interim president.
Students and staff have held marches and rallies demanding their resignations.
The school is also under investigation by the state Attorney General, Congress, and the NCAA, among several institutions.
“I love MSU, but as of right now I’m ashamed to graduate from this institution,” said graduate Alexandra Lazarow.
Some protesters also made their voice heard at Friday’s graduation ceremony by unfurling a banner as a trustee started to speak. It said “NO” in large letters, and listed “corruption, abuse” and “business as usual” along the side. They removed the banner after being approached by school officials.