Why John Engler Should NOT Be Interim President of MSU

1. The MSU Board of Trustees has failed MSU students

The board let down the MSU community. Its inability to offer solutions to protect students, to take responsibility, and to contribute to the creation of a campus climate that rejects rape culture culminated in the appointment of John Engler. A board that has so poorly looked after the needs of our university has no business deciding who should provide a guiding force for us all at this time. A board so out of touch with student and faculty needs does not deserve the authority to appoint an interim president. A board oblivious to the prevalence of assault, harassment, and rape culture on our campus has no right to stay in power.

2. Faculty and student input was disregarded

The MSU Steering Committee released an open letter a few weeks ago discussing the board’s promises to be transparent and to seriously consider faculty and student input. Board members, instead, were dismissive. At the town hall at the beginning of February, only one trustee was present. Moreover, faculty requests regarding who should be appointed as interim president were deliberately ignored. Faculty requested an interim president with proper experience to tackle the tremendous issues of sexual harassment and sexual abuse on our campus. Faculty requested a woman, backed by academic leadership experience, to fill this position. Faculty requested the board dedicate a longer period of time in hiring an interim president, thus providing the entire MSU community to provide input. Instead, the board chose John Engler by a unanimous vote -- a white, male, Republican, former governor of Michigan that was previously dismissive of sexual assault issues during his governorship. The board made not only a quick decision, but the wrong one. John Engler is not a man that can lead MSU through a healing process. John Engler is not a man that can restore trust and faith in our university, or in the board. John Engler is not a man capable of prioritizing sexual assault survivors. In fact, as various students have provided public comment to the trustees, that input was disregarded again, since our interim president often found his cell phone to be more interesting than the thoughts and needs of the MSU student body.

3. During his governorship, he fought against the protection of sexually victimized prisoners

Through these actions, he blatantly demonstrated his inability to understand the trauma and importance of combating sexual harassment and assault. During his time as a leader of the state of Michigan, he not only failed to protect vulnerable women from sexual abuse, but vehemently fought against protecting them, describing the claims as “baseless.” The end result: the state of Michigan paid $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 500 female inmates who suffered sexual abuse and sexual harassment by male prison guards. Engler’s response to allegations of sexual abuse were characterized by speculation, confrontation, and doubt. As far as the MSU community is concerned, this is the worst type of response to sexual assault survivors, who already struggle with coming forward. MSU administration has proven its inability to properly meet the needs of survivors, and of our campus, and Engler embodies those failures. John Engler, and the MSU Board of Trustees, should be removed as interim president immediately.