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Survivors and parents join MSU Museum to preserve teal ribbons

Survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse, their parents and MSU community members have joined curators from Michigan State University Museum to begin the process of preserving the more than 200 teal mesh bows wrapped around trees across MSU’s campus. The bows, which have served as a visual memorial to honor the survivors, also have been an integral part of the healing process.

Recently, staff from the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden and Campus Arboretum and MSU’s Landscape Services discovered gypsy moths laying eggs in many of the ribbons. Considered an invasive species, gypsy moths then began infesting campus. A plan to remove and preserve the ribbons was then developed after consultation with survivors and family members.

MSU arborists and museum staff are accompanying the survivors and family members as they untie the ribbons. A team from Beal is documenting the location and name on the ribbons so that the information can be available in the future.

“We are honored to have our staff assist some parents of survivors as well as campus student groups with the removal of ribbons,” said Mark Auslander, MSU Museum director. “Members of the museum will take the utmost care to preserve the ribbons and add them to our collections of university history.”

After each ribbon is removed the name of the survivor it honored will be said aloud.

Once the ribbons are collected and preserved, museum staff will work with the survivors and their parents to develop a plan for a more permanent display that continues honoring the courage of the survivors.

MSU is considered an arboretum, with more than 24,200 trees – and a record for almost every single one. Distinct from a forest, nursery or park, an arboretum resembles an outdoor museum of trees devoted to specimen plantings of woody plants. MSU’s trees also are used extensively for research and educational purposes.