My name is Morgan McCaul, I’m a freshman at the University of Michigan, a lifelong dancer and dance teacher, and, as you know, a survivor of Larry Nassar’s abuse. First and foremost, I feel it is important to read you this statistic from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network: One in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. This is a societal epidemic that is all-too-often swept under the rug, only recently emerging into prominent national conversations. These statistics are unacceptable, and specifically relevant to sports programs in which a culture of suffering in silence is rampant.
If my experience as a Survivor has brought anything to light, it’s that we desperately need legislation to protect victims, not at the expense of victims. Proactive steps can and should be taken to prevent these crimes from ever taking place, and as a room of incredibly educated individuals who are familiar with the ins-and-outs of state and federal law, I call upon you to be leaders in this pursuit.
First and foremost, we can introduce a comprehensive vocabulary into our mandated reporter requirements. Participation in sports programs puts children in particularly vulnerable contact with coaches, trainers, and volunteers...if our policies do not extend their reaches to these primary positions, then we are failing to extend lawful expectations to the most important figures in sports programs. I believe, and I hope you do too, that one’s position within an institution or sports entity should not dictate one’s responsibility to maintain a safe environment for the patrons of said entity. Especially children and young adults.
Second, I call upon you as crusaders of justice to take on sometimes difficult cases like our own. Incidents of sexual assault and abuse have some of the longest-lasting symptoms of trauma. According to RAINN, survivors of abuse are 4 times more likely experience PTSD, 4 times more likely to abuse drugs, and 3 times more likely to suffer from depression. Feelings of hopelessness and despair are exacerbated by the statistics in which these cases aren’t resolved or taken seriously; out of every 1000 rapes, only 6 will result in incarceration of the perpetrator. By listening to survivors and doing your part as a prosecutor, even in tricky or uncertain situations, you are taking an active part in not only changing the stigma around sexual assault; you are actively helping every Survivor heal.
As members of the Spartan community, especially, this responsibility lies in your hands. As patrons of this administration, your cries ring louder in the ears of the campus leaders than the cries of those who’ve been hurt as a result of negligent policy and the failure to enforce this policy. President Simon has resigned, but countless others who created an environment—specifically within the sports and sports medicine departments—which allowed a predator to thrive for decades. You have the power to make real, necessary change.
Time is up. Our time is now.