Illustration by Grace Aretakis
Illustration by Grace Aretakis

The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.

Success! You're on the list.

LSA professor Silke-Maria Weineck introduced Jonathan Vaughn, a former University of Michigan football player and sexual assault survivor, at the beginning of a celebration commemorating 100 days of protest organized by faculty to show support of the survivors of the late former University doctor Robert Anderson. The event was planned by Art & Design Professor Rebekah Modrak. The School of Art & Design partially funded the commemoration.

Speaking at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) Wednesday night, Weineck and LSA professor Allison Alexy granted Vaughn an honorary “Bachelor of Justice” degree, conferred to him on behalf of 302 faculty, and an unofficial honorary diploma commemorating his work on behalf of the survivors.

“It is my great joy to present you with the People’s degree,” Weineck said. “Hereby it is certified that upon recommendation of the rules of decency, the undersigned faculty of the University of Michigan have conferred upon Jonathan Stewart Vaughn, in recognition of his unflinching courage, public leadership and dedication to the cause of the institution’s integrity, the degree of honorary Bachelor of Justice.” 

Applause from a standing ovation filled the room as Vaughn accepted his degree, along with a black felt graduation cap and trophy. He tried to speak but was overcome by tears and emotion. Fellow Anderson survivor Chuck Christian comforted Vaughn with a pat on the back. 

Photo by Emerson Granillo

When Vaughn was able to speak, he began by thanking his mother, family, colleagues and supporters for helping to make the protest a success. He followed with critiques of the University’s leadership and their handling of Dr. Anderson’s abuse.  

“Nothing has changed in this toxic culture,” Vaughn said. “Ex-president Schlissel just got caught, and Mary Sue Coleman knows where all the bodies are buried. We will not let that stand.”

He continued to condemn other members of the University administration, including the Board of Regents, for their “persistent silence” on abuse scandals in the University community. Vaughn called out each regent by name for their failure to meet with him individually to discuss systematic change on campus.

“Your constructive knowledge, functional blindness and incredible guilt needs no introduction,” Vaughn said. “I will not be the scapegoat. You need to prove that you are serious and committed to not allowing this type of atrocity to ever happen again.” 

Vaughn also called for the removal of the Bo Schembechler statue and renaming of Schembechler Hall. Others in the community have also called for removal of the statue; last November, an anonymous local resident splattered red paint over the statue. Vaughn told The Michigan Daily last semester that the act was not associated with his protest.

Vaughn said he is willing to testify before Congress like the survivors of Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach. He then requested a meeting with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist to discuss the legacy of Anderson and his abuse at the University. Vaughn ended his speech by stressing the importance of the unification and empowerment of sexual abuse survivors everywhere. 

“We are sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters,” Vaughn said. “We are teammates. We are citizens in your districts (and) in your states. But most importantly, we are all survivors of something. We stand together as victorious victims. And whether they speak it or not, none of my brothers or sisters are John or Jane Doe. I will never be John Doe, I will always be Jon Vaughn.”

Photo by Emerson Granillo

Following Vaughn’s speech, Kinesiology professor Stefan Szymanski read a letter from Business senior Job Mayhue to introduce Tad Deluca, an Anderson survivor and former U-M wrestler. In the letter, Mayhue, a current sprinter on the men’s track and field team, thanked Deluca for his bravery in being open about his story and in his fight against the University.

“It breaks me to try and imagine what it must have been (like) for you and the other athletes,” Mayhue wrote in the letter. “It angers me that everybody knew and nothing happened. … Thank you for being brave, because that bravery years later is lighting a fire in me to stand up for what is right.”

Deluca recounted the details of a phone call with Vaughn on Oct. 8, 2021 — the day Vaughn began his protest — and shared how the protest has altered his long-standing negative view of Ann Arbor.

“Leaders and the Best in my mind until quite recently was a charade,” Deluca said. “It was intentional malfeasance, intentional lack of integrity. I was ashamed of life. I hid it as much as I could. So tonight, I have to make this right … I want to thank everyone in this room for giving me a large chunk of my life back to me. You are the leaders, and you are the best.”

Chuck Christian, former U-M football player and Anderson survivor, spoke to the crowd following Deluca. In his speech, Christian described the struggles he faced when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, struggles he attributes to the abuse he experienced in college while being a patient of Dr. Anderson. 

“A little over a year ago, I was almost dead because of what Dr. Anderson did to me,” Christian said. “I would not let another doctor check my prostate and because of it, I ended up with stage IV prostate cancer which spread throughout my spine, ribs, hips, tailbone and also my organs now, I found out. I was almost dead.”

Christian spoke to survivors of sexual abuse, promising them that they have no reason to be ashamed because abuse is never the fault of the victim. He encouraged them to speak out and to hold perpetrators of sexual violence responsible.

“One thing we told (U-M) students was: ‘Do you see any shame when I talk about what happened to me?’ They’re like, ‘No.’ ‘Do you see me shaming Jon when he talks about it now?’ ‘No.’ Well, you shouldn’t be ashamed to tell what happened,” Christian said. “Don’t be ashamed. What happened is not a reflection of you — it is a reflection of the predator.”

Photo by Emerson Granillo

Art & Design professor Nick Tobier invited Christian, on behalf of STAMPS School of Art & Design Gallery Director Srimoyee Mitra, to showcase his artwork in a show at the gallery on October 2022.

To close the ceremony, Vaughn, Deluca and Christian honored U-M police department detective Mark West with a medal for his commitment to investigating Dr. Anderson.

“I still have work to do,” West said. “There’s still people I can help around here. But at some point, my story will be told, and we will all know how everything went down. I can promise you that.”

Correction: A previous version of this article included details that were inaccurate about the awards granted to Jonathan Vaughn and did not include LSA professor Allison Alexy, who presented the award with Weineck. That version also included inaccurate information about Chuck Christian’s invitation to showcase in work in a STAMPS Art & Design Gallery and gave the incorrect number of days of protest in which the event was celebrating; it celebrated 150 days.

Daily Staff Reporter Martha Lewand can be reached at