Michigan State to raise room and board; still won’t release Nassar docs
- Michigan State University is raising room and board for new first-year students nearly 7 percent
- The university refused again to release thousands of documents related to Larry Nassar, citing attorney-client privilege
- Attorney General Dana Nessel wants the documents to probe MSU’s response to years of complaints about Nassar
Michigan State University said Friday it will raise its basic residence housing rate for first-year students almost 7 percent and will not turn over nearly 6,000 documents related to the Larry Nassar scandal.
The Board of Trustees approved a 6.95 percent increase from the current school year’s rate for the total cost of a double room with a silver unlimited meal plan for new students.
This means new first-year students living on campus will now pay $11,754 for the school year instead of $10,990. The price hike won’t impact second-year students, who are now required to spend their sophomore year in campus residence halls.
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In a document presented to the board explaining the higher rate, the university said it has faced a 25 percent increase in food costs and a more than 10 percent increase in energy, gasoline and landfill costs.
Additionally, the university is adopting a 5 percent increase for 1855 Place and University Village apartments and 3 percent increase for Spartan Village apartments.
At the end of its regularly-scheduled board meeting, Board Chair Rema Vassar announced the board would not budge from its previous refusal to release thousands of documents related to disgraced former USA Gymnastics and MSU doctor Larry Nassar, citing attorney-client privilege.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has been requesting the documents since taking office in 2019, and renewed her plea in a letter to the board last Friday, citing the need for more transparency into how the university responded to years of complaints about Nassar.
“With new membership and leadership of the Board of Trustees, we are renewing our request for additional information in hopes that we can bring a fitting close to the investigation that included a review to determine what information was known to Michigan State University regarding Nassar’s criminal behavior,” Nessel said in the letter.
Nassar will likely spend the rest of his life in prison pleading guilty in 2018 to sexually assaulting a number of girls and young women under the guise of performing medical exams, receiving prison terms of 40 to 175 years in prison, one of three lengthy sentences he received. Hundreds of girls and women later testified about the abuse they suffered from Nassar.
During the public comment portion of Friday's trustees meeting, Parents of Sister Survivors Engage (POSSE) President Valerie von Frank urged the board to release the documents.
“It’s now 2023 and this university is still providing cover for a pedophile,” she said. “It is institutional betrayal that has been absolutely breath-stopping.”
[Disclosure: von Frank is married to Bridge Michigan enterprise reporter and associate editor Ron French. French had no role in the reporting, writing or editing of this report.]
Vassar addressed von Frank and Nassar survivors in comments at the end of the meeting and said she was “sorry for the pain this institution has caused you and the pain you must feel today.”
“On behalf of the board, please know we are sorry,” Vassar said. “We recognize that MSU is a continual site of trauma for survivors. We will continue to devote time and resources to facilitate a healing culture for all members of our community. And we're committed to treating you with the respect and care you deserve during this time, during this long arduous journey that we have ahead of us.”
In a statement, Nessel addressed MSU’s continued refusal to release the documents.
“It’s a disappointing outcome from the new board,” Nessel said. “With new leadership and new members, we expected more from the Board of Trustees, and hoped they were as dedicated to accountability and transparency for their student-victims as the Department of Attorney General continues to be.
“We have made a sincere plea to every iteration of this board, and we will keep up this fight for transparency at every opportunity. But the University that shielded Larry Nassar from justice and this new board who refused today to take the vote, still has something to prove to the people of Michigan, the current students they ought to protect, and the Nassar victims the school has failed for decades.”
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