Jon Vaughn has been outside the president’s house for 100 days – but he’s not leaving yet
Trigger Warning: The following article describes sexual misconduct.
For former University of Michigan running back Jonathan Vaughn, January 17 marks the 100th day of camping outside the home of former university president Mark Schlissel. On October 8, 2021, Vaughn first set up camp to protest the University’s handling of hundreds of sexual assault allegations against the late academic physician Robert Anderson, and he has since remained firmly in post at the University. exterior of the presidential residence.
One of Anderson’s victims, Vaughn has pledged to stay outside the President’s house for 100 days or until Schlissel and the regents agree to meet with him and other survivors about the role of the University in Anderson Abuses.
However, in a Jan. 12 interview with The Michigan Daily, Vaughn said he now plans to expand the protest beyond the 100-day mark.
“I don’t know exactly how many days, but I won’t be leaving on the 17th,” Vaughn said. “The work is not done.”
Vaughn is also a candidate for a position on the Board of Regents. In 2022, two board seats are up for grabs — on Nov. 8, a statewide vote will decide who fills them. Vaughn said he plans to announce his specific campaign platform in the coming weeks.
Vaughn said while his recent cancer diagnosis hasn’t impacted his positive outlook or political campaign, it has made him fatigue faster, adding to the many health issues he’s already been through. confronted during its manifestation.
“I lost weight,” Vaughn said. “I just diet to maintain the amount of calories not only to stay warm but also to stand up. I really had to change my diet in a very unnatural way to be successful with the calories and survive those 100 days.
Vaughn said he will undergo surgery at Michigan Medicine for his prostate cancer on Friday. January the 21st. In a Monday text message to The Daily, Vaughn confirmed that he planned to be back at the Southern University residence on January 24.
In an email to The Daily on Friday, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald reiterated the University’s commitment to hearing from survivors of sexual misconduct.
“We thank Jon Vaughn and all survivors of abuse by the late Robert Anderson who have come forward to share their stories,” Fitzgerald wrote. “(Former) President Schlissel, board members and many others on our campus listened intently to Mr. Vaughn and all Anderson survivors. Survivors spoke regularly at public meetings of the Board of Regents, shared their stories through media accounts, and wrote directly to campus leaders.
Fitzgerald also said the University will continue to work toward fair compensation for survivors through confidential, court-supervised mediation. to treat.
“We again apologize for the pain they have suffered and continue to work for fair compensation through the confidential, court-supervised mediation process,” Fitzgerald wrote.
LSA freshman Eli Merren attended protests with Vaughn in support of Anderson’s victims in the fall. Looking back on the impact of the “Hail to the Victims” movement, Merren reflected on how Vaughn’s presence on campus has encouraged current students to take action.
“I hope (the protest) creates a sense of responsibility,” Merren said. “I hope that in the future the board of trustees, the future presidents, even the professors and the administration, will be a little more careful about trying to sweep things under the rug, because they know that students can and will hold them accountable.”
Chuck Christian, another Anderson survivor, joined Vaughn in October to camp outside the president’s house. Christian told the Daily that he will continue to protest with Vaughn past the 100-day mark and said he hopes their work will ultimately make campus a safer place for students.
“Nobody stood up for us. Nobody said it was wrong. And nobody spoke up,” Christian said. stand up for the students now,” because all we needed was one man to stand up. … We want you to be safe because … this school protects predators, not students.
Christian was also diagnosed with cancer in April 2016 and he travels regularly from Ann Arbor to his permanent residence in Boston for treatment. Christian said the “Hail to the Victims” protest helped him stay focused and move forward during a stressful time in his life.
“It gave me a purpose, you know, to be out there because it’s more than just me…” Christian said. “First, (I) fight for the thousands of athletes who have been raped, then I fight for the older students who are sexually harassed and unprotected and unsupported.”
Matthew Dargay, a social work student, attended one of the first protests Vaughn and Christian held outside the president’s house. In an interview with The Daily, Dargay said he still believes the University has a responsibility to support survivors in any way possible.
“The Hail to the Victims protest movement has made it clear that (university administrators) are political figures with a lot of power and need to use that power responsibly, and sadly that’s not the case for the most,” Dargay said. “The point is, whoever takes over from (President Schlissel) will have a very clear (responsibility) to do something about it and move the campus and the University forward.”
Daily journalist Anna Fifelski can be contacted at [email protected].