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Jonathan Vaughn intends to run for the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents in 2022, he announced at a U-M sexual assault survivors forum Saturday afternoon.
Vaughn is a former Michigan football player and a survivor of late athletic doctor Robert Anderson. Since Oct. 8, he has been leading numerous other survivors in camping outside of University President Mark Schlissel’s house to protest the University’s handling of sexual assault allegations against Anderson.
“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: President Schlissel is a puppet, and the puppet masters are the Board of Regents,” Vaughn said on Saturday. “Far too long now, 50 some odd years, this culture of rape, sexual abuse and cover-up has become a syndicate. It’s become a syndicate not only with the faculty being afraid of reporting or supporting — because there’s this one faculty member who told me it’s career suicide — it’s also a syndicate that the brands that support this University and some of the media that support this University say those things like, ‘We can’t continue to cover the largest sexual abuse and rape cover-up in the history of sports, because for the most part it’s just two Black men speaking up about something that happened 30 years ago or a wrestler who couldn’t keep his scholarship.’ Those are the things that we’ve heard.”
“Well, I’m here to tell you this today: the Board of Regents is a publicly voted on position, and today I want to announce that I’m going to run,” Vaughn continued. “And there are seats that are available in 2023, 2025, 2027, 2029.”
Katherine White (D) and Michael Behm (D) are the two regents up for re-election in 2022. Regent Ron Weiser (R) has said he is also an Anderson survivor.
The University’s Office of Public Affairs declined to comment.
The forum, held by six survivors of sexual assault at the Michigan League Saturday afternoon, also featured panelists such as Anderson survivor and former Michigan wrestler Tad DeLuca, survivors of former U-M lecturer Bruce Conforth and attorney Sarah Prescott, who represents eight survivors of former Provost Martin Philbert.
Vaughn has said he will remain outside Schlissel’s house for 100 days or until Schlissel and the regents speak with him and other Anderson survivors directly. While Schlissel has indirectly spoken to survivors at Board of Regents meetings and expressed his support in media interviews, he has not spoken to them directly or acknowledged their presence directly since they have been camping outside of his home.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily on Thursday, Schlissel said he has been listening to Vaughn and the other survivors but chooses not to directly approach them.
“The way I’ve chosen to listen to members of the survivors’ community doesn’t include stopping by the front of the house and listening to a group of folks in tents,” Schlissel said. “But rest assured that myself and the regents are listening to not just Mr. Vaughn and the others who are out there, but the broader community.”
Schlissel announced on Oct. 5 that he will be resigning from the presidency in June 2023, leaving his post two years earlier than planned. Schlissel’s generous exit package has stirred backlash from across the University community.
The University president reports to the Board of Regents. If Vaughn were to win in 2022, he’d start in January 2023 and be Schlissel’s superior for six months.
Managing News Editor Liat Weinstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Staff Reporter Daniel Muenz contributed to reporting.