MSU and ESPN could be headed to Michigan Supreme Court

MSU and ESPN could be headed to Michigan Supreme Court

By Zoe Schubot

Why this matters: If Michigan’s Supreme Court sides with ESPN, MSU will have to release the names and records of student-athletes.

A civil lawsuit between MSU and ESPN Inc. involving 301 student-athletes’ crime records could be moving to Michigan’s Supreme Court this month.

In September 2014, ESPN filed a Freedom of Information Act to MSU for public police records that involved student-athletes as suspects, victims or witnesses. MSU provided the records, but the names of the athletes were redacted. ESPN then sued MSU in order to obtain the redacted information.

The records were requested as part of an Outside the Lines investigation that investigated police departments at 10 major universities to determine if student-athletes and students are prosecuted at the same rate.

In March, Judge Clinton Canady of the Ingham County Circuit Court ruled in favor of ESPN, saying that MSU must release the names of the suspects, according to the court opinion. However, the court allowed the names of the witnesses and victims to remain private due to privacy exceptions in the law. MSU then decided to appeal the lower court’s decision.

In August, The Court of Appeals affirmed Canady’s decision noting that the disclosure of the names were necessary for the public’s understanding of MSUPD’s operations.

MSU does not feel that the information should be available to media outlets until the individuals in question have actually been charged with a crime, university spokesman Jason Cody said.

MSU will now ask Michigan’s Supreme Court to hear its appeal, Cody said. This will happen before the deadline on September 29th.

Cody remained adamant that the university believes the privacy of anyone who has interacted with the MSUPD should be kept private until there is an actual arrest made.

“We firmly believe that any member of the MSU community whether you’re a faculty member, a chemistry major, a student athlete, a member of the marching band — unless you are charged with a crime your information shouldn’t be made public,” Cody said. “This has been our stance all along.”

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Sexual Assault in Chemistry Building – Rape Culture at MSU

The police are investigating a sexual assault case that happened in the Chemistry Building. Someone commented on the main link by state news saying: “That predators would feel comfortable enough to do this says a lot.” It really does. It happens in broad daylight in a academic hall.

Don’t think we have a rape culture at Michigan State University – SPARTANS? Think again.

State News Link:

“A sexual assault reportedly occurred between 3 and 4 p.m. on Sept. 25 in the Chemistry Building, according to the MSU Police Department.

A 20-year-old female student told police on Oct. 1 she met a man while sitting outside of Wells Hall Sept. 25. The man walked her to the Chemistry Building and allegedly assaulted her in a stairwell, MSU police said in a statement.

When another person began walking up the stairs, the victim told police the suspect ran up the stairs to an unknown location. She told police she did not sustain any injuries.

The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the MSU Police Department at 517-355-2222.”

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“Unreported” – State News Article on Sexual Assault

1/4 women will be the victim of attempted or completed rape before the end of their college career.  Most of these go unreported. The State News covered the story of a senior at Michigan State University who is a rape survivor.  The article articulates the self-blame, the survivor questioning what happened that night and struggling to cope and survive.  We applaud the strength of this survivor for coming out about these traumatic events.  Exposing rape culture at Michigan State University through the sharing of survivor stories is an important step towards promoting awareness and change on our campus.

Below is the story written by the State News:

“It happened before she knew what was going on.

On a rainy football weekend last September, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities senior Kary Askew went to a fraternity to watch the game on television and visit with friends.

As the afternoon wore on, it became one filled with cheap mixed drinks and friendly conversation. Eventually, Askew went upstairs in the fraternity to sleep. Earlier that day, Askew had struck up conversation with a brother of the fraternity.

It happened before she could protest.

Askew told him no, wincing in pain, but was met with no relief. When he left the room, she ran away as fast as she could.

Askew’s story is similar to the experiences of many women, including MSU students, who have experienced some kind of sexual assault. Experts say the stigma attached to many assault victims has led to the emergence of an underlying rape culture, allowing others to place blame on the victim rather than punishing the attacker.

Since Welcome Week, four on-campus sexual assaults have been reported to police, according to the MSU Police Clery Crime and Fire Log. Although numbers for sexual assaults in all of East Lansing were not available as of press time, a case regarding a string of four reported attacks on students is slated to reach Ingham County Circuit Court next week.

Some are horrifically violent, striking unexpectedly under the cover of night. Others go unnoticed until it is too late, hidden by a veil of alcohol and false consent.

Either way, few are reported. University officials estimate only one in five sexual assaults that occur on campus even reach officials, said Shari Murgittroyd, program coordinator for the Counseling Center’s Sexual Assault Program.


After the fact, Askew felt it was her fault she’d been raped.

“I was feeling that guilt that wasn’t really mine to feel,” Askew said. “I thought maybe I dressed a certain way or acted a certain way, and those were the wrong things to do.”

Growing up among a conservative Catholic family, Askew feared her mother would blame her for her own victimization. Even worse, she feared her father would lose respect for her.

“My biggest fear is that my dad would be so disappointed in me,” she said. “I would never want my dad to think any less of me.”

In the aftermath of an assault, Murgittroyd said it is normal for victims to blame themselves. She said the people victims share their experiences with also run the risk of placing blame on them for what happened if they don’t fully understand the gravity of the situation.

“We (in society) silence them, tell them not to talk about it,” Murgittroyd said. “They’re gonna get blamed anyway, so why just not say anything? The whole silencing thing is part of a larger culture of oppression.”

Over time, sexual assault has become so normalized and expected that its own subculture has emerged as a result, Women’s Resource Center Director Jayne Schuiteman said.

“We live in a rape-prone culture,” Schuiteman said. “We live in a culture where we might say sexual assault isn’t OK, but in reality we don’t do much to discourage it, and in some cases we condone or praise it.”

The blame game

In terms of blame, Murgittroyd said the notion of sexual assault plays into gender roles, which children learn from birth.

“Sexism and gender violence is so ingrained in our culture,” Murgittroyd said. “We start teaching boys and girls conceptions of gender at a young age. Boys are aggressive, assertive, entitled for what they want. Little girls are gentle, quiet and pleasing.”

Schuiteman said the confusion also has to do with the conflicting expectations young men and women are faced with.

“Women are supposed to be sexually available, but they’re supposed to be virginal at the same time,” she said. “Guys are expected to be players, and if they aren’t, they may try to talk a good talk in front of their buddies. There’s pressures on men and women for very different reasons.”

Askew said such ideas ultimately lead to blaming women’s everyday factors, such as wardrobe, for their own assault.

Because of such gender roles, Schuiteman said sexual assault can bring the same feelings of guilt and embarrassment to men as well.“We don’t often think of men and think of them as victims in the same breath,” she said. “If they are victim by another man, it’s assumed it must be a situation of being gay … Which is not necessarily the case at all. If they’re victimized by a woman, oftentimes they’re not taken seriously.”

On the docket

Recently, East Lansing has experienced its own set of incidents regarding sexual assault. MSU police are investigating an attack that allegedly occurred between 3 and 4 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Chemistry Building. The 20-year-old female student did not contact police until Wednesday.

In August, a man suspected of committing a string of four sexual assaults was arrested. Oswald Scott Wilder Jr.,a 26-year-old resident of Vernon, Mich., allegedly assaulted four MSU students while they were walking home at night. He is scheduled to face trial next week.

Last Friday, all four reported victims testified during a preliminary examination. Barely keeping her composure as she spoke, one she said she was unlocking her back door and was struck to the ground, waking up on her back with her feet in the suspect’s hands. When she screamed for help, no one came.

“Our house has motion lights, and we all have to go to the back door, which is poorly lit,” she said. “The next thing I know, I wake up on the ground next to the shed.”

Another alleged victim said her attacker dragged her behind a dumpster by her hair and hit her head against it, giving her cuts down her face. When she reached out to a stranger, her pleas went ignored.

Wilder is scheduled to appear for his trial Oct. 9 in Ingham County Circuit Court. If he is convicted, he could face life in prison.

Coming forward

Askew hid her secret until the following April, when she decided to report the assault to police. For the past few months, she used shopping and partying to dull her pain — but no matter what she did to run, the attack haunted her.

“I had been having these nightmares about the perpetrator calling me and … threatening me,” Askew said. “Even though I know he wouldn’t contact me, I just kept having these terrible dreams.”

East Lansing police Capt. Jeff Murphy said it is not uncommon for victims to hesitate before alerting authorities of their assault.

“There (are) a lot of victims that are unsure,” Murphy said. “They’re upset, they wanna talk to family, they’re embarrassed. They feel like they put themselves in a bad situation, and they don’t really know how to handle that.”

Askew also alerted the university’s Department of Student Life, which handles all university-related sexual assault cases involving two students, this past April. She said a report was compiled, her attacker was contacted and she has not heard back from the department since.

Although the likelihood of resolving the issue remains higher when the assault is reported immediately, Murphy said police must treat assaults reported later the same way as timely reports.

Last month, Askew said she was sexually assaulted again. This time, she reported it immediately.

“I might have said while I was drunk that I was okay with having sex with the guy, but I was in no state to be doing that,” Askew said.

East Lansing police confirmed both cases are under investigation.

Schuiteman said the university aims to make students feel comfortable reporting to authorities if they have been sexually assaulted.

“The reporting rate is very low, and we’re trying to change that,” she said. “We want to create zero tolerance for sexual assault.” “

Resources for sexual assault survivors:

Sexual Assault Crisis and Intervention Hotline
Student Services Building
556 East Circle Dr. Room 14
Women’s Resource Center
332 Union Building
East Lansing police
101 Linden Street
MSU police
1120 Red Cedar Road
MSU Department of Student Life
Student Services Building, Room 101

Link to article in State News:

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Know Your IX and EROC

Two fantastic resources for survivors and allies:

Know Your IX is a campaign that aims to educate all college students in the U.S. about their rights under Title IX.

“Know Your IX is a campaign that aims to educate all college students in the U.S. about their rights under Title IX. Armed with information, sexual violence survivors will be able to advocate for themselves during their schools’ grievance proceedings and, if Title IX guarantees are not respected, file a complaint against their colleges with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.” Know Your IX visit them at 

End Rape On Campus’s mission is to provide free support to those filing a Title IX/Clery Act Federal Compliant to hold colleges accountable for their handling of sexual misconduct cases.  Visit their site at:

They have worked with student activists at UNC-Chapel Hill, Occidental College, Swarthmore, UC-Berkley, Darthmouth and University of Southern California. 

Check them out and share with your friends to educate everyone on their Title IX rights.

Our Spartan Community deserves to be a safe place for all those who attend.  If you have any questions about Title IX and/or Clery or you feel that your rights have been violated feel free to reach out to us at 

Love and Solidarity fellow Spartans.


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Yale: “Nonconsensual sex” is punishable by “written reprimand.”

I suggest you read Yale Universities recent report on how it handles sexual misconduct cases. Yale Report on Sexual Misconduct

It is clear that the school has a clear tolerance for sexual violence.  Handing out “written reprimands” for “non-consensual sex.”  They have officially declared “non-consensual sex” not a big deal–although RAPE is a crime.  This punishment is equivalent to that of minor plagiarisms, which is deeply disturbing.

Given the recent conclusion of the Department of Educations investigation on Yale, we are deeply disappointed that they are allow this to continue to happen under their watch.

One of the very first cases states the following:

“A YC student brought a formal complaint charging a male YC student with acts of intimate partner violence against her.
Update: The UWC found sufficient evidence to support the allegations of intimidation in the context of an intimate relationship. The respondent was given a written reprimand, was restricted from contacting the complainant, and was encouraged to seek counseling for anger management.”
So the Respondent was found in violation, but only given light sanctions.  This message is since throughout every case is you read throughout all of the pages.
Only one of the six students that a university committee or administrator found guilty of non0consensual sex was suspended.  Four students who were found guilty of non-consensual sex were given written reprimands, with one required to attend gender sensitivity training.
Rapists should not be let off with a ‘slap on the wrist.’
To read more about this on HuffPost.
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USC under Investigation by Department of Education

USC Responds To Rape Investigation by Education Department

University of Southern California is facing federal investigation for failures by school officials and campus police to respond to sexual assault.  A group of 13 students have filed with the Office of Civil Rights.

“Reed, the lead complainant, said USC dismissed her claim that her ex-boyfriend had raped her, despite her providing audio recordings of him admitting to it. At one point, Reed said, a USC official told her the goal was to offer an “educative” process, not to “punish” the assailant.”

“One student involved in the USC complaint, who asked to remain anonymous, said a DPS detective told her the campus police determined that no rape occurred in her case because her alleged assailant did not orgasm, and that therefore they had decided not to refer the case to the Los Angeles Police Department.”

There are currently other investigations at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Student Activists Demonstration Addressing Campus Sexual Violence and Title IX Enforcement

Student Activists Demand Stronger Punishment For Colleges That Fail To Address Sexual Assault

Sofie Karasek, University of California – Berkeley: “There are students who don’t feel safe in their homes, they don’t feel safe going out at night. It’s not legal and it’s not morally correct that this is happening. We need to take a stance because this has been happening for so long, and schools have just swept it under the rug. … Our administration has largely stonewalled us and said that we don’t know what we’re talking about.”

Hannah Slater, Yale University: “[The OCR] did not find Yale non-compliant, but neither did they find Yale complaint. They entered an agreement for Yale to undertake measures for improvement, which is great, but I feel like my school has not been held properly accountable for the ways in which they have failed their students.”

Charles Clymer: “At every college campus with over 6000 students, there is at least one rape every day, according to FBI data. … We need to say, loud and clear, to college officials: if a rape occurs and you ignore it or bury it, you will be held just as responsible as the rapist.”

Sarah Gutman, University of Pennsylvania: “Too many of my friends have been affected by this, and I’m sick of it. Something needs to change. The people here are what’s going to change that. … It’s our culture that allows such violence to be so pervasive and continue. People are looking at this as isolated incidents, but they’re all symptoms of the same disease.”

John Kelly, Tufts University (right): “Something that’s really overlooked is what happens to male survivors, both those who are LGBTQ and those who are not. Oftentimes this is framed as gender violence and women’s rights issue, which it is, but it is also a human rights issue. Every day, more and more males are coming forward, reporting sexual violence … That’s something that needs our national attention.”

Sasanka Jinadasa, Harvard University: “Especially for people of color and queer people on our campuses, our colleges are not doing enough. … We’re working hard on making sure that survivors’ stories are heard. One of those ways is having more transparent access to Title IX complaints, but in order for that to be effective, Title IX needs to be enforced on campuses.”

Tucker Reed, University of Southern California: “The more complaints that are filed, the less stigma is going to be lodged at these schools that have filed so far. This is a huge issue across the country, and we need to fix it. We need to be honest that this is an epidemic. The number is 1 in 4: when that’s a sickness, we call it a plague. … Everybody is doing this wrong. We can fix this if we just donate the time, the energy, and the talent to tackling this.”

Carolyn Luby, University of Connecticut: “The administration was aware of [the retaliation against me] and did nothing. They said nothing. They sent out no campus-wide communications saying that sexual harassment or hate crimes were a suspendable or expellable offense. They said nothing at all to cease this behavior from happening. … UConn cares more about their image than they do about the actual safety of their students.”

Kerry Barrett, University of Montana: “It is being framed as an elite school problem, but it isn’t. It’s everywhere. … The scope needs to be broadened.”

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Rape victims call for actions from Education Department | Medill | Washington

Video on ED Act Now Demonstration in DC demanding for Department of Education to be a more effective ally in aiding survivors of campus sexual violence.

UVA Sexual Assault Coalition

Rape victims call for actions from Education Department | Medill | Washington.

An awesome video of the demonstration in front of the Dept. of Education on July 15. Thank you to those brave survivors and allies!

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Swarthmore College Under Federal Investigation For Handling Of Sexual Assaults

Huffpost reported that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation at Swarthmore College. A group of both men and women filed a compliant in May regarding the handling of sexual misconduct cases and retaliation against sexual assault survivors.  Hope Brinn, a student at Swat, said the official told her that the male student’s admission that he had harassed her “was punishment enough.”  Our administrations on campus are not protecting survivors of sexual violence and allies who speak out in solidarity. 

“Students are talking, and the government is listening” said Hope Brinn.  This isn’t just happening at Swarthmore College, this is occurring all across the nation. 

We stand with you Swat Survivors. It is time to make our campuses safer for everyone.

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ED Act Now: Survivors and Allies Calling for the Department of Education to enforce Title IX

ED Act Now: Survivors and Allies Calling for the Department of Education to enforce Title IX

ED Act Now plans to bring survivors and allies together on Monday at 11a.m. outside of the Department of Education to deliver the petition. They are petitioning for the enforcement of Title IX in colleges across the United States. 

Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale College alumna said, “Survivors and allies across the country are demanding change on their campuses. Over the past few months, an unprecedented number of students have filed federal complains with the Department of Education against their schools.”

Some articles on this topic are covered by the Dartmouth, Bloomberg, Inside Higher Ed, the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and the New York Times.

Alexandra called for survivors and allies to join the fight for equality in education, saying, “It is important to note what a cross-cutting issue this is. Sexual violence is often thought of as just an issue of gender and sexuality, which of course it is, but Title IX is fundamentally about access to education — and that’s an issue of class, of race, and of American inequality.”   

It is time for Title IX Enforcement by the Department of Education.  Colleges should not be continually allowed to violate Title IX to further encourage the culture of the silencing of the victims. 


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