Michigan State University alumni mag changed to soften message of sex abuse scandal
EAST LANSING (AP) — Michigan State University’s alumni magazine opted for a positive message after the original issue addressing the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal was scrapped by Interim President John Engler.
The issue is the first since the former sports doctor was sentenced to decades in prison for abusing girls and women, including Michigan State athletes.
The Spartan Magazine’s original front page was slated to be a black-and-white photo of a woman with teal lipstick. The color represents support for sexual assault survivors, and the issue’s contents would have been essays uncovering how the university handled Nassar’s case and what it now means to be a Spartan.
The replacement front page includes only text that reads, “The university, which faced the most difficult challenge in its history, has emerged and is going to be stronger, safer and more competitive than ever.”
Nine short letters from alumni and university deans line the pages of the magazine, some critical of how Michigan State handled Nassar’s sexual assault allegations. But the centerpiece of the new issue is a four-page Q&A with Engler, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The rest of the 60-page magazine was filled with positive stories about events and programs taking place on campus.
Several alumni criticized the updated issue, saying they want the magazine to reflect ongoing conversations, even if it’s not all positive.
“There’s no ducking what happened,” said alumnus Carissa Michaels, 46. “They should have the story with (Engler). It’s important to hear from him, but it also would be good to have other views in there.”
The magazine missed an opportunity to help alumni in their conversations about the Nassar scandal, said alumnus Mike Johnson.
“Nobody is being honest about the good and bad,” Johnson said. “Do that — it will help.”
University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said the magazine is trying to strike the right balance. The magazine’s three-month production process made it difficult for the editorial team to stay ahead of the news cycle, she said.
“Alumni consistently communicate to the magazine team that they want to know what is happening on campus,” she said. “So striking a balance between addressing the problems of the past but also showing the positive impact Spartans are having across a variety of fields was the desired outcome.”