ANN ARBOR: University of Michigan Fraternity Banner Jokingly References Child Abuser

Photo: Banner hung from University of Michigan fraternity house referencing serial child abuser Larry Nassar

By Lois Boite

On November 16, the Psi Upsilon fraternity at the University of Michigan (UM) hung a banner from their house window, reading, “You Can’t Touch Us @LarryNassar,” mocking the victims of the serial child molester and former Michigan State University (MSU) assistant professor and USA Gymnastics doctor.

Banners read “”You can’t touch us @ LarryNassar” and “Welcome to the school you didn’t get into”

In July 2017, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years after pleading guilty to several accounts of child pornography and a year later 175 years for multiple sexual assaults of children.

Nassar used his position as an athletic medical doctor to repeatedly abuse his patients. In his time with USA Gymnastics and MSU, he molested over 250 women and girls, many as young as twelve. Both institutions that employed Nassar were complicit in this abuse, which spanned decades.

The banner was hung for the annual football game between UM and MSU.  The banner also read, “Welcome to the school you didn’t get into,” what was defended as a “playful” exercise in college rivalry. The display received backlash from university students and several survivors of Nassar’s abuse.

The banner reflects the widespread sexual abuse and violence against young women prevalent in college fraternities. This abuse has historically been protected by the bourgeois jurisdiction of the university, who rely on the wealthy parents of fraternity members for donations. This relationship allows these campus institutions to get away with abusive hazing practices, racist parties, and sexual assault.

“The chapter will be pursuing corrective action with those responsible for hanging the banners and those who failed to intervene,” the university stated in a statement released after the incident. “Members of the campus community also have submitted complaints against the chapter.”

The “corrective measures” that UM references are an empty, performative attempt to maintain its public image. Despite many ineffective reforms instituted by UM, a recent report disclosed that the number of sexual assaults on campus more than doubled from 2017 to 2018. Submitting complaints and placing hope on “corrective measures” instituted by the bourgeois university will not protect women from abuse.

Fraternities will likewise not change their behavior based on a few members being given a slap on the wrist. The anger of students should be turned into organized action against these dens of sexism and racism, taking the fight directly to abusers and their guardians within the university.