The hiring of Paulette Granberry Russell, a former senior diversity advisor to the president and Title IX coordinator at Michigan State University, by a school in the Cal State University system has sparked protests and a petition to quash the offer.
On Wednesday afternoon, Granberry Russell stepped down from his post, according to a school-wide email from Jeffery Armstrong, president of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly).
Controversy on the Central Coast campus has surrounded Grandberry Russell’s link to the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.
Granberry Russell has spent the past 22 years at Michigan State University (MSU), during which time she served as the school’s director of diversity and senior advisor to the president. Her duties also included the post of Title IX Coordinator during the period when Dr MSU Larry Nassar sexually assaulted hundreds of college girls.
Russell’s time at MSU
In late 2015, while Granberry Russell was MSU Title IX coordinator, the Association of American Universities conducted a survey of female students at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.
Here’s what the investigation found.
Almost 30% of those surveyed said they had not reported it because they believed nothing would be done about it. Overall, almost one in four female undergraduates reported experiencing non-consensual sexual interference.
The US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) also found that MSU violated federal law in dealing with sexual assault on its campus in 2015, while Granberry Russell was the Title IX coordinator.
A year later, the Larry Nassar scandal was reported by the Indianapolis Star-Tribune. More than 500 people have made allegations of sexual abuse against the former faculty member.
Documents obtained by Michigan State Police show handwritten notes from Granberry Russell and MSU President Lou Anna Simon discussing Nassar’s sexual abuse in May 2014.
An affidavit from the Michigan State Police Sgt. Guillaume Arndt includes a representation of Simon andGranberry Russell discusses a complaint filed by college student Amanda Thomashow, who was assaulted by Nassar while seeking hip treatment.
Granberry Russell was made aware of Thomashow’s complaint on May 16, 2014 by Kristine Moore of MSU’s Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, according to the affidavit.
Granberry Russell said she handwrote a note that read, “Sports Med, Dr. Nassar, SA.” The “SA” stands for “sexual assault”.
Granberry Russell and Simon met on May 19, 2016 to discuss the assault. Simon was then charged with two counts of felony and two counts of misdemeanor for lying to investigators before the charges were dropped in May 2020.
Cal Poly Response
Days after Granberry Russell was hired, Cal Poly faculty and staff wrote Armstrong a letter expressing concerns about being hired.
“As head of Michigan State University’s Title IX bureau, Russell was in charge of one of the worst sexual abuse scandals in American history,” the letter reads. by Mustang News.
Professors were never made aware that this was “emergency research,” the letter continues, and traditional public calls for faculty participation or contribution or public interaction with it. Granberry Russell have been entirely ignored.
“By all accounts, for years MSU has maintained a culture hostile to complaints of sexual abuse,” the letter read. “As head of the Title IX bureau, Russell was at the top of this system. Her claim that she was unaware of what was going on – if true – would appear to be a powerful indictment of its ability to lead and create a campus climate anchored in love, empathy and respect. “
Over 3,000 faculty, staff, students and alumni signed the letter.
“Armstrong’s claim that Russell” had no connection with past misconduct issues at Michigan State University “seems spurious at best,” Brenda Helmbrecht, English professor at Cal Poly. told Mustang News. “His involvement is documented.”
According to Cal Poly Administration and Finance, the hiring of Granberry Russell came at a time when the school implemented a hiring suspension, or what school spokesman Matt Lazier called “chilling” to hire.
Granberry Russell was offered the position of Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, one of three vacancies during the recruitment crisis, after an emergency hiring was required following the retirement of Jozi De Leon.
Armstrong was the MSU dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources from 2001-2011, straddling the days of Granberry Russell.
“I can attest to the fact that the teachers were not consulted at all”, Helmbrecht continued. “The research process was not transparent and appears to have been kept confidential.”
The change.org petition included a comment from Jasmine Till, ASI (Associated Students, Inc.) Diversity and Inclusion Secretary.
“I believe we desperately need a leader who genuinely listens to students and passionately advocates for progress in promoting a welcoming and safe community,” Till wrote. “I challenge (Cal Poly President Jeffrey) Armstrong’s alleged ‘reliance’ in Russell’s expertise and experience. No achievement of any magnitude can outweigh misconduct and harm. irreversible it caused to the MSU community.
Armstrong assessed the stakeholders after the withdrawal of Granberry Russell.
“First of all, let me say that I am always open to criticism, questions and protests, and I recognize and understand the concerns that many have raised,” Armstrong wrote in an email. “However, I have to express how disappointed I am that Paulette’s decision comes after an outcry from some members of the campus community that was, to be frank, misinformed, inappropriate and in some cases downright despicable.
Armstrong wrote that a “not so veiled” death threat had also been sent to him and Granberry Russell.
“It is clear that many do not agree with my decision to offer Paulette a position at Cal Poly. I consider and respect these prospects,” he continued. “However, I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that members of our community have published false claims, assumptions and accusations about Paulette as if they were facts.
Whatever the topic, I ask each member of our community to take the time to research the facts before making judgments and posting conclusions based on something they may have read or heard online. on social networks or elsewhere. “
Ayrton Ostly scours Twitter, courts, courts and trails across Salinas in search of stories from the community. Do you have any advice? Send an email to [email protected] and subscribe for full access to all local media coverage of the Californian.