EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest column written by Pamela Heijerman, a sophomore at Michigan State University and an alumna of Martin High School.
by Pamela Heijerman
With multiple sexual assault offenses charged against him, Larry Nassar has shaken the Michigan State community and placed our campus under the intense scrutiny of the national eye.
Along with various gymnastic organizations, Nassar’s despicable deeds have not only besmirched the reputations of fine institutions, of much greater importance, they have brought incredible hurt and devastation to the victimized and their families.
While Nassar has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, the case has not stopped with courtroom legalities. Students at Michigan State have taken it upon themselves to stand up for the sexual assault survivors and press for needed changes.
At one gathering, former Michigan State gymnast Lindsey Lemke and student body president Lorenzo Santavicca rallied the crowd, and then together, the group marched to the administration building and protested against the leadership of President Lou Anna Simon. Throughout the past several weeks, the student body has continued to put an immense amount of pressure on her to resign, which she did Jan. 24.
The following Friday, students who attended the basketball game wore teal in support of the sexual assault victims. IZZONE, MSU’s basketball section, created a GoFundMe and raised more than $6,000 to donate to the Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Team of MSU and the Firecracker Foundation. That Friday, the athletic director Mark Hollis announced his retirement, being the second university official to resign that week.
Right now, as the rest of the world sees Michigan State for the scandal that is taking place, I view our campus as much more than this. I acknowledge the evil and corrupt behavior of Nassar and I am hopeful that examination of procedures and policies will lead to a safer campus environment, but I, along with thousands of other Spartans, will not let Michigan State be defined by its worst.
While the ugly will always steal the spotlight, the MSU community continues to work together to fix what is wrong, seek justice, and work toward healing the wounds inflicted on us.
Admittedly, the Michigan State community has been disheartened by the present scandal, and yet the attitude of the students is one of determination and hopefulness. As Spartans, we are angered that the university that we love has apparently failed us and enabled actions that we find unacceptable, but we eagerly move forward to encourage change that will facilitate healing and implement policies of prevention that will stand out as examples to all other universities.
We are Spartans, and our love and support for each other will overcome any scandal and adversity that stands in our way.
Townbroadcast reporter Austin Marsman contributed to this report.