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Sexual assault survivors at MSU speak out at emotional town hall

We don't feel safe. And we don't feel heard.That was the overwhelming message at a Michigan State University t...

Posted: Feb 2, 2018 11:42 AM
Updated: Feb 2, 2018 11:42 AM

We don't feel safe. And we don't feel heard.

That was the overwhelming message at a Michigan State University town hall of students, faculty and community members Thursday night.

More than 600 attendees filed into an on-campus conference center for the town hall -- some waiting in line for hours -- in hopes of getting to air concerns to MSU Board of Trustee member Brian Mosallam. He was the lone trustee in attendance, and CNN has reached out to each of the seven other trustees, asking why they were not there.

'I feel nothing from the trustees'

Of the dozens of students who took to the mic to speak out, was Kat Ebert, an MSU student and a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of former world-renowned sports doctor and MSU employee, Larry Nassar. She spoke at his sentencing hearing in Eaton County one day earlier, but on Thursday, she was there to speak to Mosallam.

"I am a survivor of Larry Nassar," Ebert said, to a standing ovation of support from the crowd. "I feel support from students and faculty, but I feel nothing from the trustees. What does it take for you to step down? I don't want apologies. I don't want your money. I want a change."

The town hall was moderated by Stephanie Nawyn, director of MSU's Center for Gender in Global Context, and was meant to be a discussion on campus climate. But it turned into a chorus of attendees yelling for Mosallam and other trustees to resign.

Mosallam told CNN that he would not be resigning, said he came to hear concerns about the university's handling of sexual assault cases -- but he had no idea just how many MSU survivors of sexual assault would come forward during the town hall that lasted two hours and 45 minutes.

"I came here tonight because I knew the community was angry," Mosallam said. "I came here out of respect for survivors, to begin a conversation about how to make change."

Speaker after speaker came forward, some in tears, recalling being sexually assaulted as students, and unable to find help.

Claire Fredin, 20, was still shaking an hour after she spoke to the crowd.

"As a sex assault survivor on this campus -- twice now -- I would never come forward to your Title IX office," Fredin said. "Yes, you need to revise your Title IX program. Because if you can't find a serial predator guilty, it's not working."

Anger about Engler

Just one day before the meeting, the board of trustees voted unanimously to select former Michigan Governor John Engler as the interim president of MSU. Former MSU President Lou Anna Simon announced her resignation on January 24, the day Nassar was sentenced in a nearby Ingham County Court.

The trustees said Wednesday that they believed, "it is in the university's best interest to appoint an interim president from outside the institution to provide strong leadership during this critical time."

But students and faculty felt blind sighted by the vote -- saying in the town hall that the board took no input from them before making its decision.

Mosallam told the crowd he did not agree with the board's decision to select Engler as interim president, but he voted for him "for the sake of unification, I agreed to vote with the majority."

To this, one attendee yelled, "You're a coward."

Fourth year, dual doctoral candidate Dee Jordan, was furious as she asked Mosallam, "What were you thinking?"

"Engler refused to allow investigators of sexual assault at women's prisons (as governor,)" Jordan said, in tears. "You had a choice on the matter. 'Yes,' 'no,' or 'abstain.' And you chose to vote 'yes.' I'll never look at you the same again."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
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Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
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Rock7779
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Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
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Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
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Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
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Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
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Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
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Davis4709
Taylor4653
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