Did Betsy DeVos roll back Title IX regulations dealing with the reporting of sexual assaults on campus at the request of MSU?

The above photo of Trump administration Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos chatting with former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon was taken on September 20, 2017. Two days later, on the 22nd, DeVos would announce that the Department of Education would be rolling back Title IX regulations dealing with the reporting of sexual assaults on campus. And, given what’s come out recently about the culture of sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual violence at MSU, many are curious as to whether or not Secretary DeVos’s personal connection to MSU, where she and her family just recently donated $10 million, perhaps influenced the decision to water down the federal rules governing a university’s responsibility in addressing accusations of sexual misconduct… The following is from Citizens for Ethics, an organization that is currently investigating “the extent to which Michigan State officials were pushing the Department of Education to drop its investigations and monitoring activities of the school.”

Lou Anna Simon, as I alluded to above, is no longer the President of MSU, having been forced to resign shortly after MSU doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to serve 175 years for the sexual abuse of over 150 female gymnasts. While Simon initially had the confidence of the university’s Board of Trustees, it would appear that support started to give way with the publication of news stories about how she knew, back in 2014, that, in her words, “a sports medicine doctor was under investigation.” In spite of this, however, and the fact that at least 14 university employees knew of the multiple allegations against Nassar, he continued to see patients for a full 16 months after the investigation by university police had begun. And he may well still be seeing patients today if former gymnast Rachael Denhollander hadn’t started talking publicly about her experiences in September of 2016. [While at least six young women had filed formal complaints about Nassar over the past two decades, Denhollander was the first to go to the press, demanding to know why he was still being allowed to molest young gymnasts.]

“A monster was stopped last year, after decades of being allowed to prey on women and little girls, and he wasn’t stopped by a single person who could have, and should have stopped him at least 20 years ago,” Denhollander said the Detroit News after Nassar’s sentencing. “He was stopped by the victims, who had to fight through being silenced, being threatened, being mocked, by the officials at MSU who they appealed to for help.” And, with that, Simon’s fate was pretty much sealed.

What we still don’t know, however, is the extent to which Secretary DeVos may have aided in the coverup, helping those at MSU, like President Simon, avoid accountability as they continued to perpetuate a culture of dismissiveness when it came to the accusations of sexual abuse from female students. Here’s hoping, if DeVos did play a role, we find out soon, before she can do any more damage to public education in America.

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18 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    This administration is vile.

  2. Meta
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Speaking of DeVos, did you see this Washington Post headline today.

    “DeVos seeks cuts from Education Department to support school choice”

    Read the article here:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2018/02/12/devos-seeks-massive-cuts-from-education-department-to-support-school-choice/

  3. 734
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    It’s been a good week for DeVos. She also said yesterday that the Department of Education would, from this point forward, reject the bathroom complaints of transgender students.

  4. Eddie Jackson
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Once you realize who’s running MSU these days it all makes sense.

  5. greater734
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    This is amazing and necessary dot-connecting. Would love to see it get picked up in the national media.

    Long live local journalism!

    Oh right.

  6. Jcp2
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I don’t think there is a conspiracy for cover up. I think there was always a reactionary element in the GOP educational platform, which was able to gain traction once they won the election. However, the zeitgeist changed a lot with Weinstein and #metoo, and the Nassar scandal really pointed out organizational culture blind spots that are transitioning from “old fashioned” to “not acceptable”.

  7. Citywatch
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Mark. Can you send this great article to a national media outlet? We are Michiganders and we know Betsy’s education history here, and we know the history of the DeVos family as well. They started Amway, one of the biggest pyramid schemes ever. It came so big and problematic that they had to change the name. It continues to this day. Their money has gone to support conservative causes everywhere and schools of choice in Michigan, especially those with a religious orientation.

  8. Lynne
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    It is almost like if you vote for someone who openly brags about grabbing women’s pussies without their consent, you might get someone who would nominate vile people who don’t like policies which protect women.

  9. Kat
    Posted February 13, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    The Warlord must be battling for new territory somewhere. (Maybe extending his basement empire into the laundry room.)

  10. EOS
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    The Title IX regulations didn’t stop Nassar. It was criminal charges. Why not go back to Universities focusing on teaching and leave the law enforcement to police agencies and the courts? The girls should have filed police reports rather than reporting to University officials. Title IX is the problem, not the solution. Good for Betsy!

  11. Mark Brewer by proxy
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Mark Brewer (the Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party):

    “The allegedly independent prosecutor investigating @michiganstateu’s handling of Nassar isn’t independent at all: politician & candidate for governor @SchuetteOnDuty calls all the shots”

    https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/02/14/shuette-directing-msu-investigation-william-forsyth-larry-nassar/336599002/

  12. Jean Henry
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    EOS– There were multiple police reports by victims, no warrants were issued. Title IX was what was used to allow them to collectively bring action against him. the piece only addresses the 2014 police report but there were other complaints filed dating back to at least 2003. https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/local/2018/01/26/larry-nassar-michigan-state-investigation/1064914001/

  13. Jean Henry
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    http://time.com/5128308/michigan-police-apologize-larry-nassar-abuse/

  14. Iron lung
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Leave it to EOS to blame sexual assault victims for their plight.

    What a piece of work. No clue how she can call herself a Christian.

  15. Jean Henry
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I don’t usually get too worked up about these things but, when referring to a group of young WOMEN, with the collective guts to stand up to a monster and an entire culture of systemic denialism, I don’t think ‘girls’ is the appropriate term.

  16. Iron lung
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh sorry, now mr. Flakes will come on to complain about how we are mean to someone who blames sexual assault victims for letting a sexual predator continue.

  17. Jean Henry
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    for clarity’s sake, it was the criminal prosecution for child pornography that paved the way for Nassar’s criminal prosecution for molestation. Up until then, complaints filed with both the police and MSU and coaches and other medical professionals were dismissed. Title IX is still relevant in that it will allow the plaintiffs to sue the University and its agents for having ignored their concerns and participated in a cover up.

  18. Jean Henry
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    IL– The problem is were not civilized like Mr FF.
    “There is no salvation for us but to adopt Civilization and lift ourselves down to its level.” — Mark Twain

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