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MSU Trustee Breaks Ranks, Calls for Simon's Resignation

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After the MSU student government unanimously approved a resolution calling for the resignation of university president Lou Anna Simon Thursday night, the Board of Trustees staged a closed-door meeting Friday to draft a statement of continued support for Simon.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the entire eight-member board was unified in delivering the public statement Friday, which read, “We understand the public’s faith has been shaken. The Board has listened and heard the victims. Today, the Board acted and has asked the Attorney General’s Office to review the facts in this matter, and as information is presented, the Board will act.”

Board chairman Brian Breslin went on to say, “As part of the Board’s oversight authority, we will retain independent external assistance to support our responsibilities to the university community and the public at large. We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support.”

However, on Saturday board member Mitch Lyons issued a separate statement disagreeing with the board’s previous declaration of support for Simon, saying, “This board has prided itself on presenting itself as a unified board over the years, even when we had disagreements. However, on this issue I strongly disagree and, while I am only one voice on this board, I can't in good conscience remain silent on this issue.”

“As I expressed repeatedly to fellow board members during our discussion Friday, I don't believe Pres. Simon can survive the public outcry that has been generated by this tragedy and even less so after hearing the testimony of these brave survivors of Larry Nassar's abuse. I believe our best recourse is for President Simon to resign immediately in order to let the healing process begin,” he said.

As proof of his sincerity, Lyons also announced that he will not run for re-election in 2018.

Chairman Breslin issued a second statement late Saturday to confirm the rest of the board’s continued support for Simon, saying the trustees looks forward to “a prompt and thorough investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to help reassure the public that the university and its leadership have nothing to hide.”

MSU student body president Lorenzo Santavicca also responded to Lyons’ announcement Saturday night, telling the Detroit Free Press, “I am shocked that Trustee Lyons made the move, but it is reassuring to know that the board truly isn’t as unified as they seem. As mentioned by Lyons in his comments, institutional accountability has been compromised. Students have lost trust in this board and administration and hope that more will follow.”

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