UM fraternity faces backlash over Nassar-related banner

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The Psi Upsilon chapter at the University of Michigan is facing corrective action this week in the wake of complaints over a banner hung from its fraternity house that some say is insensitive toward victims of convicted sexual molester Larry Nassar.

The Psi Upsilon chapter at the University of Michigan has faced criticism over a banner that referenced serial sex abuser Larry Nassar.

The banner, reading “You can’t touch us @LarryNassar,” was shown hanging over the window of the Phi chapter house in a photo posted on social media Saturday afternoon. It was apparently used as a jab at Michigan State in the universities’ longstanding rivalry. Another banner below it read, “Welcome to the school you didn’t get into.”

The leadership of the local chapter of Psi Upsilon promptly removed the banners on Saturday, according to the University of Michigan's Office of Public Affairs. The university’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life contacted the chapter president and advisers.

"The chapter will be pursuing corrective action with those responsible for hanging the banners and those who failed to intervene," the university said in a statement Tuesday. "Members of the campus community also have submitted complaints against the chapter to the Greek Activities Review Panel, which is part of the fraternity and sorority community's self-governance process."

"We take this matter very seriously and will be issuing the appropriate statements from the undergraduate members, Alumni and International Office respectively," said Greg Rupp, an executive council member for the fraternity, in an email Tuesday evening. "Collectively, working with the (Interfraternity Council) office at U of M, we will determine what disciplinary actions will be taken and release that information when it is available."

Nassar is a convicted serial child molester and a former osteopathic physician and USA Gymnastics national team doctor at Michigan State University.

The banner prompted an immediate and angry response on Twitter.

“Things that are okay: fun school rivalries,” Kirsten Lovely wrote in a Twitter post Saturday. “Things that are not okay: using survivors as a punchline for your school rivalry.”

“I could literally not care less about the Michigan v Michigan State rivalry as I don't go to either school,” Lovely continued. “Just pointing out that fans can poke fun at each other, but not at the expense of hundreds of survivors.”

Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and former gymnast who was the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar, responded Sunday with a post of her own.

“Dear @UMichFootball and @UMich I want to believe your fans and students are better than this,” Denhollander wrote. “Rivalries are fun. But assault isn’t a joke or a punchline. And rivalries should never dehumanize the other side. Treat people with dignity. Then have a great game.”

USA Gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles weighed in on the incident in this tweet: “unbelievable..... this is the type of stuff that makes me sick to my stomach I hope the school is taking the proper measurements in investigating this...”

Morgan McCaul, a UM student who was assaulted by Nassar, said on Twitter she had "filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, and I look forward to their investigation of the fraternity's contributions to a hostile educational environment."

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN