Lou Anna K. Simon still doesn’t seem to get it.
Despite having to resign from her job on Wednesday, the now former Michigan State University president seemed to acknowledge a loose grasp at best of the horrors that occurred in East Lansing and were allowed to be perpetrated for close to 20 years by convicted serial pedophile Larry Nassar.
All while demonstrating zero accountability.
Simon, who worked at MSU since 1993 and held the university president’s title since 2005, tendered her resignation just hours after a judge handed down a 175-year sentence for Nassar, who had spent the previous week hearing in detail about the atrocities he committed from the point of view of 168 of his victims.
But instead of focusing on the victims in her resignation and the culpability of the school she has overseen for the last 12 years, Simon used her resignation letter largely to hone in on how difficult the situation was for her.
Here’s a segment of her letter:
As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me. I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up. I support wholeheartedly the Board’s decision to ask the Attorney General’s Office to review the events surrounding the Nassar matter. This is an important step toward providing more assurance to the university community and to the public. In the past, I have provided assurances to the Attorney General of my full cooperation, and I will continue to do so.
As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements. Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first. Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU. I have tried to make it not about me. I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now. Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.
Sure. This was a difficult day for Simon personally. Yes, it sucks to experience a downfall littered with shame and scandal for a situation that may or may not have ever reached the level of your office. We don’t know, because despite reports of Nassar’s abuse being known in East Lansing as far back as 1997, there hasn’t yet been a comprehensive investigation into what happened on campus.
But you know what’s even worse? Getting molested as a teenager by a doctor who was presented to you as a man of trust by MSU and having to live with the inevitable mental and emotional consequences for the rest of your life. Consequences like Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney contemplating suicide because of the abuse she suffered.
Simon’s viewpoint on Wednesday is a convenient turn from the initial days of Nassar’s sentencing hearing when nobody from MSU, Simon included, could be bothered to make an appearance, because, allegedly, the victims, not MSU should be the focus.
“After much consideration, President Simon and Board of Trustee Chairperson Brian Breslin chose not to attend,” MSU spokesman Jason Cody said of the first day of Nassar’s hearing. “They believe Nassar’s sentencing is about getting justice for the victims, so the focus and priority should remain on them. They are truly sorry for the abuse these victims suffered and want to hear these brave women as they make their voices heard. Both the President and Trustee Breslin are viewing the sentencing hearing through live media streaming.”
Simon, experiencing a change of heart after some public pressure, did make a brief appearance at Nassar’s hearing later in the week. But she apparently couldn’t be bothered to make time for the victims speaking at the hearing about the pain they were forced to endure under MSU’s purview.
But even as the pressure peaked and got to be too much for Simon, pressure that had government officials, students, university trustees and the national press calling for her head, she still managed to reach the conclusion that Wednesday was about her.
Even as she made a lame attempt to make us think otherwise.
“I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now.”
Don’t worry, Lou Anna. Nobody else but you is making this about you.