EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Hundreds of people packed into the Kellogg Center on the campus of Michigan State University Thursday evening, where a town hall meeting was led by one of the school's board members.
The meeting was originally capped at 200 people, but the fire marshal later came in and allowed the capacity to be safely doubled to 400 people.
Thursday's discussion was held amid the fallout of the Larry Nassar sex abuse and the school's handling of the scandal. It was also an chance for students and other community members to speak out about the unanimous vote by trustees to bring on former Michigan Governor John Engler as the school's interim president, following the resignation of Lou Anna K. Simon. Many students and faculty members say they were upset they didn't have any say in who would lead the university.
"We have lost faith in the board of trustees, and we would like to see new leadership there," said faculty member Arthur Ward. "If it's possible to get a new interim president, I think we would be happy with that."
"I would like to give [John Engler] the benefit of the doubt, see how he handles things, because what the board has done is what the board has done" said student Caroline Colpoys. "It doesn't necessarily reflect on him. I'd like to give him a chance to prove himself first, but if anything does happen where students feel he needs to step down, that's something that should be considered."
During Thursday's meeting, several students passed a letter through the crowd explaining why they believe Mr. Engler is wrong for MSU, saying they believe he eroded state funding for public school and higher education and that he refused to allow investigators of sexual assault at a women's prison.
Several students and faculty members are not only demanding a new interim president be selected but that the entire board of trustees be replaced.
Brian Mosallam, the trustee who listened to all the speakers during Thursday's discussion, said the conversation was a big first step and that more meetings like this will be held in the future.
"It starts with beginning a conversation right?" said Mosallam. "With the survivors and listening to the survivors and faculty and students, and formulate a plan going forward, this is not just for fluff. There's going be a few of these, and we're going to put together a plan."