TAOS Statement on Michigan President Mark Schlissel & Survivor Settlement

UPDATE: On January 19, the University of Michigan reached a $490 million settlement with more than 1,000 survivors of abuse by Robert Anderson. We hope this is a step forward in the healing process for these survivors.

However, we would like to acknowledge the settlement disparity compared to the Michigan State University settlement with survivors of abuse by Larry Nassar. Victims of Anderson will receive approximately between $400,000 and $500,000, while victims of Nassar averaged $1.2 million per settlement.

The majority of Anderson’s victims were Black men, while nearly all of the victims of Nassar were white women. This settlement is yet another example of the inherent racism that is ingrained in the systems of power within the U.S.

Dwight Hicks, a board member with The Army of Survivors and survivor of abuse by Anderson, told the Associated Press: “I don’t feel we should get less. This is the damage that was done to us and perpetrated on us as Black men.”

In addition to monetary settlements, The Army of Survivors will continue to advocate for lasting change in the culture of sports through accountability as well as stricter legislation and reporting requirements.

Hicks shared with us that ”these powerful institutions prey on the weak, because they can just pay and make it disappear, and move forward. I don’t want people to forget that this wrecked lives and families. Instead of just talking about it, we need to be about it. ”

The Army of Survivors stands by Dwight in his statements, and continues to support all survivors of sexual violence in sports.

———

The Army of Survivors has issued the following statement on University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel’s firing:

As an organization working to end sexual violence, The Army of Survivors stands firmly against any abuses of power. Schlissel’s inappropriate relationship with a subordinate is clearly a violation of both his power as university president and university policy, and therefore we are in full support of his removal from the position

However, if the University of Michigan is going to take a stand against sexual misconduct, it must do so wholly and unabashedly by realizing their listening to survivors of Dr. Robert Anderson is well overdue. 

Anderson abused thousands of athletes during his time at the university from 1966-2003, and some of those survivors have been camping outside Schlissel’s house since early October requesting a formal sit down conversation. Those requests have gone completely ignored. Although the university stepped in to rectify this recent issue with Schlissel, there is still an indignant refusal to listen to current and former students about their experiences with sexual assault by the university’s former doctor.

To know that these survivors were protesting sexual abuse outside Schissel’s house while he simultaneously abused his power and carried on an inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate is deeply disturbing.

It is time for the University of Michigan to step up and do their part in putting an end to sexual abuse and abuses of power within the university.

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Sport has the potential to be a catalyst for human development, unity, and freedom, but too often it instead brings harm to its athletes, fans, and communities. We exist to uncover and rectify the many abuses that exist both in and around sport. We aim to transform sports into an authentic force for good.