WSW: A Sexual Assault Survivor At MSU Wants Change For "The Next Victim"

Mar 25, 2018

Michigan State University's interim president John Engler speaks with reporters after appearing at a legislative hearing, Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Lansing, Mich. Engler told lawmakers he wants to settle a lawsuit filed by victims of imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar, but some bills being pushed in the Legislature are interfering with the process.
Credit David Eggert / The Associated Press

Meg Hughey and other survivors of sexual assault at Michigan State University began speaking out in 2015. None of the women had been assaulted by Larry Nasser. But she says the scandal involving the former sports doctor presented an opportunity to hold the university accountable.

Hughey says after she was raped in the summer of 2014 by her former instructor at MSU, she discovered another woman had been attacked by the same man. Hughey was one of four women who drafted a petition nearly a year ago calling for changes at Michigan State, including the resignation of then-president Lou Anna Simon. Simon stepped down in January amid the fallout from the Nasser scandal. Hughey says both Nasser and her assailant were employees, and had been reported previously.

Hughey says MSU has not been responsive to survivors. She says every response from the university was tone deaf, and placed blame on the victim. Hughey says it left the impression that Michigan State didn’t want to investigate sexual assault causes, and was more concerned with its reputation than with helping survivors. 

As Community Impact Coordinator at the YWCA of Kalamazoo Hughey now speaks about human trafficking and sexual and gender based violence. Though she studied English and American History at MSU, Hughey says she was always interested in social justice. 

The Lansing State Journal reported on the difficulty victims had making their complaints to Michigan State University officials. 

"I have kind of got handed this card that I didn't ask for, and at least in this point in my life I might as well do something with it to hopefully help others."

“I have kind of got handed this card that I didn’t ask for, and at least in this point in my life I might as well do something with it to hopefully help others”.

Hughey says she wants to make the system easier to navigate for the next victim. She says it’s great for sexual assault survivors to share their story if that’s what they want to do. But Hughey says it’s a personal choice, and victims should not feel like they have to speak out.