September 5, 2019
Livingston County Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin says while she welcomes today’s announcement that the Education Department is fining Michigan State University $4.5 million for failing to respond to sexual assault complaints against Dr. Larry Nassar, she remains “deeply concerned by Secretary Betsy DeVos’ approach to the issue of campus sexual assault”.
DeVos said the university's failure to act created a "sexually hostile environment” and the university did not adequately respond to complaints against Dr. Larry Nassar and his supervisor, William Strampel. DeVos said any school that fails to uphold its responsibility to students will be held accountable, noting MSU has agreed to take corrective action to protect its students. Michigan State University Provost June Youatt subsequently resigned today. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin issued a statement following the news, saying she will continue to stand with the survivors of sexual assault at MSU and in the community. However, she said she remains deeply concerned by DeVos’ approach to the issue of campus sexual assault as she is currently working to water down Title IX protections. DeVos stated "Never again should incidents of sexual misconduct on campuses—or anywhere—be swept under the rug."
Slotkin said what DeVos fails to recognize is that under her own proposed changes to Title IX, many survivors of sexual assault – including many of the survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse – would be prevented from bringing Title IX claims because the assault took place off campus or because the survivor reported the incident to a non-designated Title IX coordinator. Slotkin said DeVos calling out MSU while simultaneously pushing federal policies that do the very same thing - roll back protections for survivors - is hypocritical and, most importantly, makes K-12 schools and campuses less safe. The Holly Democrat urged DeVos to absorb her own words from today’s statement and re-think her proposed changes to Title IX. (JM)