Roughly 100 protestors marched at the University of Michigan on Tuesday night calling for the resignations of the school's president and its head athletic trainer.
The group -- which included former athletes, current students and others -- gathered to voice their disapproval of how the university has responded to the hundreds of former patients who say they were sexually assaulted by former doctor Robert Anderson during his time as a Michigan employee. A pair of former Wolverine football players who say they were assaulted by Anderson during team-mandated physical exams, Jon Vaughn and Chuck Christian, have been camping outside of university president Mark Schlissel's home for most of October asking Schlissel to meet with them.
"We want him to go," Vaughn told the crowd after they marched to the front of Schlissel's house.
Anderson worked at Michigan from 1966 until his retirement in 2003. During much of that time, he worked closely with the sports teams on campus. He died in 2008, a decade before the first public reports of his abusive behavior surfaced. An investigation commissioned by the university and published by the WilmerHale law firm in May found that Anderson engaged in "countless occasions" of sexual misconduct, and that several other university employees failed to act when presented with credible complaints about Anderson.
Former patients of Anderson have accused at least 10 university officials of ignoring complaints about Anderson. The only employee on that list that still works at the university is head athletic trainer and associate athletic director Paul Schmidt.
Schmidt has worked in the athletic department since the mid-1980s. Former players say Schmidt made jokes about the treatment players received when they visited Anderson and had to "drop their drawers." Schmidt denied those claims in interviews with police and with the university-hired investigators from WilmerHale. He told the investigators that he knew Anderson was conducting rectal exams on players, but he said he "assumed they were appropriate and never thought Dr. Anderson abused any patient."
Protestors carried signs and chanted "Fire Schmidt" on Tuesday night. Current Michigan student Eli Merren, who is part of the student-led group Michigan Students Against Sexual Assault that organized Tuesday's rally, said their focus for the night was to make sure that their feelings about Schlissel and Schmidt were heard.
"[Schmidt] still works here. Why are we letting that happen?" he said. "We're here today to get him fired."
Vaughn, a former running back who was the Big Ten's Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 1990, said he wanted to meet with Schlissel when he first started his campus sit-in on Oct. 9. Christian joined him a week later. Schlissel acknowledged the protestors at a recent board meeting and said he applauded their bravery.
A university spokeswoman, Kim Broekhuizen, said Tuesday that it would not be appropriate for Schissel to meet with the former players due to ongoing litigation. Vaughn and Christian are among hundreds who are suing the university. The school entered into a mediation process last September to try to settle those lawsuits, but no resolution has been reached yet. Broekhuizen said plaintiffs in the lawsuits can share their stories with university leadership during public board meetings.
"Since the first reports early last year, our board and president have listened carefully to the survivors of the late Dr. Robert Anderson's abuse," she said in a statement. "We, again, thank them for sharing their stories with us directly and through the attorneys many have hired to represent them."
Vaughn and Christian say they want a more personal meeting with Schlissel. Vaughn said Tuesday that he plans to remain on campus for 100 days before re-assessing. Tuesday was his 18th day.
The two have been joined by other survivors of assault during their time on campus, including Tad Deluca, a former Michigan wrestler who first raised concerns about Anderson in 1975 and prompted hundreds to come forward in the past few years after alerting current administrators about his experience with Anderson by writing a letter in 2018. Those men have also been joined by other athletes who say they were assaulted by former Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar and former Ohio State doctor Richard Strauss.