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Sex scandal doesn’t scare students away from MSU

Story: Joseph Sparkia, Staff Writer

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Senior Emma Pischea knew, prior to the Larry Nassar case, that sexual assault happens at Michigan State University. She had been told stories about crimes like date rape and other incidents fueled by the college-party environment.

But those stories have not stopped her from wanting to attend the school.

“I was never too nervous or concerned specifically about MSU because I figured most colleges would be the same in that regard,” Pischea said. “I know that horrible man is going to jail forever. I know now, if something like that ever happened to me, who to trust and who not to trust.”

Nassar was a world-renowned osteopathic sports physician at the East Lansing Big 10 school and the USA Gymnastics team doctor. He worked in the field for about 38 years with Olympic champions like Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and hundreds of other athletes and girls.

After close to 250 women made statements describing how they were sexually assaulted by Nassar, future students and athletes naturally asked the question, “Is this the best college for me?”

Senior Nate Westerlund has been accepted to the school and, like Pischea, is still committed to being a Spartan. But he knows the school’s reputation is tainted because of a select few of the higher ups.

“Since I’m going to be a doctor in the future, I feel like everyone’s going to be like ‘I’m from MSU, oh Larry Nassar, MSU’,” Westerlund said. “People are probably going to put those words hand in hand.”

The school has close to 50,000 student enrolled. Ninety nine percent of those students have no reason to be blamed for the crimes that one man did and a few people had hid. Incoming freshmen like senior Nick Sloan thinks the poor publicity the university has acquired will die out.

“I think (the bad rep) can change, but I think a lot of the people are just trying to say stuff to hate on MSU,” Sloan said.

As a nationally renowned university, State is not a bad place to go to school. It has the largest study abroad program in the United States, it is ranked 72nd in the world and it also has the 26th largest library in North America.

And out of the 6,800 staff who work there, only 14 known knew about what Nassar had been doing.

“Michigan State right now is facing a lot of trouble, for good reason,” Pischea said. “But I believe that they are making an effort to fix and change the system so no one needs to be silenced anymore.”

About 11 percent of all students will experience sexual assault in someway or another, according to RAINN.org. Low counts of sexual assault cases don’t necessarily mean less assault, it may just mean these assaults are not being reported as they should.  

“I really think every college is going to have their downfalls and maybe MSU is having their downfall right now. Purdue had Joe ‘Pa’ Paterno with the sexual assault on the boys,” Westerlund said.

For some, the safety of MSU is a big concern. Senior Lauren Slavish actually thinks State may be the safest place to go to school at the moment.

“My dad and I had a talk the other day about how he believes that it may be the safest place for a girl to go right now because of all these topics going around that they’re going to pay way more attention,” Slavish said.

Slavish said the crimes Nassar committed needed to surface for there to be closure for the survivors. Along with other schools making changes of their own, President Donald Trump recently signed a bill to protect athletes from sexual assault, one of many steps to create a better and safer environment for future students.

“It needed to come to the surface so that he could be punished for the harm and pain that he brought upon all those victims,” she said.

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Sex scandal doesn’t scare students away from MSU