Survivors, faculty, students react to new Michigan State president

Published: May. 28, 2019 at 5:19 PM EDT
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Students, faculty, alumni, and survivors are hoping Michigan State University's new president brings positive change to East Lansing.

Doctor Samuel Stanley Jr. comes with a résumé boasting a Harvard education and a near ten-year presidency at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

But some Spartans aren't satisfied. Some are cautiously optimistic while some are downright angry.

"We start with a cloud of, unfortunately, suspicion, and I think that there is much work to be done in order to build community trust here." MSU Professor, Andaluna Borcila said. She is also a part of Reclaim MSU.

The suspicion, even making its way to Twitter. One user writing: "MSU board elects yawn-inducing protypical academia bro with teal-colored window dressing" and another saying "nothing like saying we changed our ways like hiring another white male."

On the other hand, the President of the Associated Students of MSU says they aren't going to knock Dr. Stanley before giving him a chance.

"It's hard to really say if the identity of the person could have made it better or worse because it really comes down to the attitude, the action, and you know, the effort they are going to put behind it," Mario Kakos said.

In addition to the lack of diversity, some were upset with the lack of transparency in the selection process.

"It is a difficult start for the president of this university I think to heal and regain the trust of the community when he comes out of a closed search," Borcila added.

Survivor and MSU Alumna Olivia Venuto wishes the search would have been more open and ended up with a woman or person of color, especially after John Engler's time as interim president.

"Having Engler in the position that he was in was... incredibly hard and it was really difficult to continue to heal while he was in his position. Every day there was a new news story, you know, what did he say today?" she said.

And that's why some Spartans are simply happy to see new leadership which they hope will bring about a culture change on campus.

"I just for so long wanted to be proud of MSU again, and having a new president is definitely a step in that direction," Venuto said.

"Just more empathy, you can have all the skills in the world, but if you can't be empathetic and understand what is going doesn't matter," Kakos added.

MSU says the search was "open" and included Nassar survivors and input from the community. Trustees added that they even created a website updating the public on the search. However, the identity of the candidates for the job were kept secret. State law exempts university presidential searches from open-records requests.

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