MSU Board of Trustees lambasted for decision to not release documents related to the Larry Nassar case in latest meeting


A view of the Hannah Administration building from the Red Cedar River/ Photo Credit: MSU University Communications

Liam Jackson, News Editor

EAST LANSING – The Michigan State Board of Trustees met for its monthly meeting on the morning of April 16, 2021. The meeting was the first since MSU decided not to release the approximately 6,000 documents related to the internal handling of the Larry Nassar case.

The release of the documents was reviewed by the Board of Trustees and the decision not to release them was made. Trustee Renee Knake Jefferson was tasked with examining all of the documents and began to do so in early 2020.

“I am here not by choice,” Tammy Bork said. “One of the girls was my 11-year-old and now here I am speaking on behalf of well over 300 girls, parents and siblings.”

Emotions like sadness and anger could be heard over the Zoom call from Bork, as well as others who spoke on this issue. 

“We are in disbelief that you shut down two independent investigations, ignored public outcry, and declined Michigan Attorney General’s plea,” Bork said.

The plea by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel requested that the documents, protected by attorney-client privilege, be released, or she would have to end the investigation.

 “We have used every legal mechanism available to us,” Nessel said in a public statement, “including going to court to secure the remaining documents needed for our investigation. The university’s refusal to voluntarily provide them closed the last door available to finish our investigation.”

Trustee Knake Jefferson wrote on her personal website that her reasoning for her decision was that “what I learned from reviewing these documents is consistent with information that is already in the public domain regarding Nassar.”

The president of the Women’s Council, Michigan State student Danielle James, also voiced her disappointment during the Board of Trustees meeting Friday. 

James said that the responses by the Board to the investigation as a whole were “tone-deaf, lacked tact, compassion, and were downright disrespectful to the survivors as well as the MSU community as a whole.”

 “I am tired, survivors are tired, the MSU community is tired,” James said to the Board of Trustees, “but we are wide awake to your deceptive maneuvers.”

Second-year Michigan State student Sydney Connors also had a strong statement for university president Samuel Stanley and the Board of Trustees. 

“Michigan State University is not some inanimate concept you rule over, but a community of thousands of valuable individuals,” Connors said. “Our safety and well-being is irrefutably more important than your austerity measures and the fact that I feel I have to actually say that is patently ridiculous.” 

At the end of the meeting, Trustee Kelly Tebay was emotional when addressing the survivors and those who spoke out for them. 

“I would appreciate if you understand that I am fighting for you, and I am trying,” Tebay said as she fought back tears. “We are working on these things and making sure that it never happens again.”

“Like the sun and the moon, truth cannot be long hidden,” Bork said. “We are not going away.”