She Warned MSU About Larry Nassar. Now She Wants To Fix The System That Silenced Her.
Amanda Thomashow filed a Title IX complaint against the Michigan State University team trainer in 2014 — but no one listened.
... It wasn’t until two years later, when a second woman filed a Title IX report with MSU complaining about Nassar’s behavior, that the school took a better look at her accusations. The university found that Thomashow had been right about Nassar all along....
“Being in that courtroom, I felt the purpose of my life shifting,” she told me, a year almost to the day after the historic sentencing that put Nassar behind bars for 40 to 175 years.
“I lived for years wondering if I was alone, if he had hurt other people, hoping that he hadn’t,” she said. “But then, all of a sudden, I was sitting there with hundreds of other survivors and I thought: I have to stop this. I have to do everything I can to stop this from ever happening again.”
... Today, Thomashow is a campus sexual assault coordinator for the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board. She collaborates with colleges across the state to create sexual violence prevention programming, and works on centering survivors in each project she pursues. Fittingly, Thomashow works with victims from Michigan State, the same campus where she was assaulted.
“It appears that we as a society favor money over human lives, and our rules reinforce that,” Thomashow said as our conversation veered toward Betsy DeVos’ new Title IX guidelines, which the education secretary proposed in November.
The proposal prioritizes schools and institutions over sexual assault victims by making it harder to report gender-based violence. One of the key provisions many have criticized is that universities would only be responsible for misconduct that occurs on campus.
Under these new guidelines, Thomashow would not have been able to file her 2014 Title IX complaint, one of the key developments that led to Nassar’s downfall.
“I was a block away from campus in an MSU building, with an MSU doctor, as an MSU student, with an MSU resident that was asked to leave the room right before I was assaulted,” she said. “But it wasn’t in the capacity as a student, and it wasn’t on campus, so the university would have been able to shirk responsibility for my abuse under the new guidelines.”
Nassar could still be practicing medicine today if those guidelines were in place while she was a student. And that’s why, Thomashow said, she continues to do the work she does....