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Chuck Moss

Chuck Moss

“A Few Suggestions for (Interim) President Engler”

February 2, 2018

Okay, so John Engler: The iconic, former three-term Governor has been appointed Interim President of Michigan State University. This is very good.  Right now, there’s a complete void of leadership.  Following the conviction of predator Larry Nassar and the revelation of years of abuse of young women and girls, ask: Who knew and did nothing, and who should have known and did nothing?

The tone-deaf response by now-former President Lou Anna Simon and the equally clueless Board of Trustees’ wagon-circling led to a full-blown crisis.  With no credible figure in charge, MSU is struggling to restore confidence in its fundamental institutional decency.  The Monty Python foot-stomp, no-confidence vote from the Legislature evidently shook them all up.  Good.  Hiring Engler was a great step.  There’s nothing I can teach John Engler, but here are some ideas:

“Justice and Accountability”

1.  Get a handle on the scope of the problem right away.  The tone-deaf wagon circling of now very-former President Simon and her clueless Board, showed MSU to be gripped by an insular, impenetrable, institutional culture.  Something horrible had flourished under their noses for years, and clearly whatever oversight regime they had was a failure.  Get to the bottom of it.  Get rid of the bad guys and the folks who looked the other way.

2.  Chain of command.  Who’s in charge of what?  Who’s accountable to whom, and who’s THAT person accountable to?  What’s the procedure for handling accusations?  Who’s in charge of investigation and response?  Who watches the “watchers?”   If someone sees something and reports it, what happens to the report?  Definite responsibilities must be assigned.  Interim President Engler needs to establish an institutional and bureaucratic framework of controls and accountability.

3.  Everyone’s on trial right now.  The Attorney General has announced an inquiry. Well, someone had to show some leadership somewhere.  But now innocent people have to be quickly cleared.  Otherwise, an entire university of people is unjustly tainted.

4.  Don’t go the other way: A dysfunctional system that victimized females isn’t fixed by establishing a system that victimizes males.  There’s lots of talk in universities today about modern Marxist feminism and “toxic masculinity.”  That replaces one system of injustice with another.

5.  “Due process” for everyone.  Another bad campustown trend is the abandonment of due process for accused men.  This has led to miscarriages of justice in college adjudications, and more and more colleges paying big damages when those cases get removed to real courts.  Accusations of assault and rape are serious crimes and should be reported to the real police and dealt with by the real legal system.  Campus hearings might be okay for cases of plagiarism and loud music in the dorms, but aren’t for major criminal offenses.  “Law” and “due process” for everybody.

6.  I don’t think I have to worry about this with John Engler, but: Don’t back down from the campus “Red Guards.”  If activists show up and try to disrupt, call the cops.  Colleges breed lots of strange little hothouse plants, and every single one will be busy not letting this crisis go to waste.  But there are thousands of students who are paying good money for an education, and they deserve to get it without harassment from budding little Mao’s.  Here’s a name to remember: S.I. Hayakawa.  Back in the 1960s the campuses blew up, especially in California.  At San Francisco State, he was President.  He didn’t try to placate demonstrators; just told them they’d be arrested and expelled in short order.  What happened to him? He soon became U.S. Senator Hayakawa.  Look it up.

Now, I don’t see John Engler needing much advice from me.  But as a fellow proud alumnus of Michigan State, I want to see bad guys out of my college, victims made whole, good people returned to work, students protected to learn, and the institution free to move forward.  As a guy who wears the Green and White, I’m entitled to put my oar in, and I’ve done so.

Good luck, Governor.

Chuck Moss teaches Political Science at Oakland University and serves on the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority. He was elected to represent the 40th District in the Michigan House and was appointed Chairman of the all-important Appropriations Committee, responsible for the entire state budget. Prior to politics, Chuck was political columnist for the DETROIT NEWS, and has hosted talk shows for radio and television.

February 1, 2018 · Filed under Chuck Moss

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 harvey bronstein // Feb 2, 2018 at 11:13 am

    I actually think that John Engler was the right choice. My only advice is: governor, don’t waste your time speaking with Ms. Simon.

  • 2 Ronald C. Graber // Feb 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    I also believe John Engler was the right choice. I worked in budget office during Eenglers service as Governor. The board and Mrs. Simons seemed to be at a lost in leadership. I hope the board keeps quite and does not make further press statements. I like your article and suggestions – good job.


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