LANSING — On Wednesday, emails obtained by The Chronicle of Higher Education revealed that Michigan State University interim President John Engler made irresponsible and insensitive comments about the survivors of Larry Nassar calling into question Engler’s ability to continue to lead the University community during its rebuilding process. In response, the Progressive Women’s Caucus’ executive committee released the following statement:

“With his own words, interim President John Engler has made it clear that he is not capable of handling the sensitive and important work of rebuilding a campus and a community in the wake of a disturbing sexual assault scandal. He must resign. After everything these survivors suffered, the last thing they deserve is to be attacked by the very institution that failed them. If Engler will not resign of his own volition, it is time for the Michigan State University Board of Trustees to exercise its authority and remove him from a position he clearly is not capable of fulfilling.

“The bravery and inner strength it takes for a survivor to come forward to share what has happened to them cannot and should not be maligned. As a state, we should be focused on creating a culture where survivors feel believed and supported, not perpetuating one where their motives and experiences are questioned.

“Moving forward, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees must immediately put in place a leadership team that will be respectful and sensitive to the unique needs and experiences that survivors face when they speak out, as well as to the students on campus speaking out and calling for change. The Progressive Women’s Caucus will continue pursuing our mission of lifting up the voices of women and girls throughout the state by advocating for policy changes to ensure college campuses have the resources and culture needed to protect survivors and prevent sexual assault altogether. This is an issue that affects far too many Michigan communities. All our universities, starting with MSU, need to step up and lead to combat sexual assault.”

            The Progressive Women’s Caucus’ executive committee includes state Reps. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township), Leslie Love (D-Detroit) and Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids).