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After Larry Nassar's Sentencing, Eyes Turn To Michigan State University


The former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar will spend at least 40 years in prison for sex crimes on top of 60 years for child pornography. And now one lingering question is how the institutions that employed him will be held accountable. Those institutions include USA Gymnastics, which we'll hear about elsewhere in the program, and Michigan State University. Rebecca Kruth of Michigan Radio visited campus to talk with students there.

REBECCA KRUTH, BYLINE: It's a brisk afternoon on the banks of the Red Cedar River. I'm standing in front of a boulder known as The Rock. Students use it as a kind of billboard to spray paint birthday messages, congratulations for sports victories, sometimes even marriage proposals. Today the words thank you have been painted in turquoise. Next to that - the names of the more than 150 survivors who spoke during Larry Nassar's sentencing. Senior Caitlin DeLuca takes a break from her afternoon jog to snap a picture.

CAITLIN DELUCA: I kind of am, like, looking at them and wanting to almost put them to memory because I feel so horrendously awful for them. My school was part of the reason that they've had to suffer in silence for so long.

KRUTH: DeLuca notes that there's been a lot of anger on campus this past week, and it's aimed at administrators.

DELUCA: The way that it's been handled from the top down has let so many students down. And it's made us lose complete confidence and faith in our administration and in our university.

KRUTH: Following Nassar's sentencing, fallout has been swift. MSU President Lou Anna Simon resigned earlier this week, and the school's athletic director, Mark Hollis, stepped down earlier today. Then there are the looming investigations. The U.S. Department of Education, Michigan lawmakers, the state's attorney general and the NCAA all plan to investigate the school. It's been a demoralizing week at this Big Ten university of 50,000. But freshman Natalya Swartz says she hopes people remember that there are thousands of others here who did nothing wrong.

NATALYA SWARTZ: We're all trying to do our best and trying to create a good image. So that isn't what Michigan State is. It's a lot bigger than that.

LORENZO SANTAVICCA: For a lot of students, particularly undergraduate students here, we're trying to figure out where we go from here. This is going to be a big change for the institution.

KRUTH: That's student body president Lorenzo Santavicca. He says school officials need to listen more closely to Nassar's victims. Back at the Rock, junior Alex Vamvounis pauses for a few minutes on his way to class.

ALEX VAMVOUNIS: This is one of the few things that could really make me ashamed of my school. These women trusted the system, and the system let them down.

KRUTH: Freshman Kate Nieman, who calls herself a survivor of sexual assault, says she's already seen some positive change.

KATE NIEMAN: There's always leaps and bounds to overcome and things to learn. And you can never truly understand if you've never been in that situation. But I mean, the students have been such supporters of the situation, and I'm really proud of that.

KRUTH: Students here plan to protest tonight right here at The Rock. They want MSU to change how it deals with reports of sexual abuse and how it treats survivors. For NPR News in East Lansing, I'm Rebecca Kruth. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rebecca Kruth is a reporter interning with Aspen Public Radio over the summer of 2013. Originally from Eaton Rapids, Michigan, Rebecca is thrilled to be spending her summer making radio in the mountains. Though she's always been a public radio fan, Rebecca explored several other career paths including teaching high school English before making her way to the airwaves. During her graduate studies at Michigan State University, Rebecca decided radio was where she needed to be and squeezed some journalism courses into her American Studies degree program. After graduation, she snagged internships on the news desk at WKAR, East Lansing and the arts and culture desk at WBEZ, Chicago. When she's not chasing stories, Rebecca enjoys cycling, photography, listening to This American Life and wandering around the country with her husband, James.