Me Too, Too



For anyone that follows me on social media (@RealJonAndrews) you probably know that I find the "#MeToo" movement problematic. I could spend all day articulating a myriad of issues with it, from the trivialization of assault to the outright false equivalencies created in comparing a wolf whistle with a violent gang rape. However, I'm not going to discuss that here. You can read all about the problems with the movement in this wonderful piece by Naomi Schaefer Riley at Acculturated.

Instead, I'm going to take this opportunity to share my own very complex and traumatic story with you. It has been two years since I have had to tell this to anyone in its entirety and I have tried to include as much detail as I can remember.


CHAPTER ONE: THE ASSAULT
For me it started on January 7, 2015 in the basement of Sigma Chi Fraternity at Hanover College. I was certainly a problematic person and like most college guys I liked to drink. A lot. I also liked to sleep on our basement couch for some reason (which was against the rules, mind you.) It happened the same way that night, I drank too much, got sleepy, and instead of going to my room I fell asleep on the couch in our basement. Unfortunately, some time later I woke up to another fraternity brother performing oral sex on me.

When I finally managed to push past the confusion of the entire ordeal, I became incredibly angry. I have no shame in admitting I flew into a rage. I put distance between us in the form of several dining room tables and distinctly remember screaming "HOW DARE YOU!?" He was calm and conciliatory, which only made me angrier. It led to me storming out of the basement and to my room where I proceeded to message him on Facebook and inform him that if he ever came near me again I would tell everyone what he did to me. Then I went to sleep.

The next day, after choir practice I went to our Housing Director, who at the time I considered a close confidant and I shared with him what had happened the night before. After I told him, he was very quiet for a long time, I remember he had his laptop in his lap and the revelation seemed to stop him in his tracks. After he gathered himself, he informed me that as a school employee, he was a mandatory reporter of sexual assault, but immediately implored me to keep the incident quiet. It was recruitment week and our chapter had always struggled to get new members. I understood how important it was for us, so I agreed. Looking back, I realize how stupid of me this was.


CHAPTER TWO: MOVING ON
After the conversation with my Housing Director, I let myself forget what happened. Sometimes I feel very strange that I did not react to the assault the way you see in movies. My grades certainly suffered and I became more jaded toward my friends. Meaner, even. Perhaps, subconsciously I blamed them for having to keep silent.

While I would not learn this until much later, it turns out that my Housing Director broke confidence with me and informed my assailant that I had come to him with the complaint. In response, my assailant began to share the story with other brothers, but with his own spin on the events. I suspected this was happening for quite some time, but I wasn't able to confirm it until Spring Term of 2015.

To my great surprise, in April of 2015 my assailant came directly to my room on the first floor and personally apologized for the incident. I remember standing in my door way, a little stunned, because of the rumors I heard he had been spreading about me. Nevertheless, I accepted his apology and we even shared a quick hug. From that moment onward, I thought things between us were going to return to normal (we had never been close friends, we merely shared a house). They did for quite some time. That is until a minor disagreement over a petty house rule (a frequent occurrence at our chapter) with my assailant led him to utter the words "we still have unfinished business."

I knew immediately what he meant and I knew in that moment that I had to take action. It triggered something in me I rarely felt, a genuine fear for my safety. The Housing Director was not in the house instead I went to our Risk Manager, Vice President, and one of my Little Brothers (someone who, at the time, I considered to be an honorable and trustworthy person.) I told them directly that I wanted to make a formal complaint and that I wanted the advisor called immediately. I was assured that they would take action on the matter and my mind was at ease.

Still, I left the fraternity house that night out of fear to stay with a friend at another dorm complex. The next day I spent some time looking up resources for sexual assault survivors, but had faith that my fraternity officers would make good on their assurances to ensure the issue was resolved.

Later, I was told that because I never followed up with any of them they decided not to go to the advisor. My assailant graduated a few weeks later.


CHAPTER THREE: ACCUSATION P.1
I have said it before, but it bears repeating, I was a problematic person. In a word, I was cantankerous, and the constant let downs by my brothers did not help matters. As I entered my senior year (Fall 2015) relations with my fellow brothers never really got better. To be honest, things had always been tense with them because of the way they conducted themselves toward our pledges during recruitment periods and their general lack of respect for the Fraternity. I remember one particular instance when a brother continually exposed himself to a group of our pledges and when I became angry (this was not only hazing, but also a violation of Title IX) it was brushed off by the rest of the chapter. In fact, many of them became angry at me for making it an issue.

I resolved to devote myself instead to recruitment and to ensuring that my Little Brothers (let's call them Bob and Steve) were well taken care of and had secure places as the future leaders of our chapter. In all of these things, I succeeded. When Bob came out to me, I helped him adjust, find a boyfriend, and eventually come out to the chapter. I later ensured Bob and Steve were elected as President and Vice President respectively. Later that year, recruitment numbers were also much higher than they had ever been, and I have no problem taking some of the credit for that.

I, feeling that I had ensured the chapter's future, was ready to get the hell out of dodge. I had no idea that was a sentiment shared by a group of members (the current President, Risk Manager, and a few others) who resolved early in the school year to make sure I was removed from the fraternity and the school.

On a night in November, I went out to a campus event with a group of friends. Upon return to the fraternity house, I found Bob far more intoxicated than I had ever seen him before. He had never been a heavy drinker and I was immensely concerned for his well-being. I went out of my way to keep him from taking more shots and eventually convinced him it was time to go to bed. As anyone who feels a measure of responsibility and friendship for another human being I helped him to the bathroom where he proceeded to get sick and when he asked, I brought him his pajamas. When I was finally able to walk him to his room, I pulled out his futon, found his blankets and pillows, gave him a trash can and put him to bed.

Before leaving, I asked if he wanted me to stay with him to which he responded yes. It was not an unusual circumstance. When he first became my Little he and another Pledge would stay over in my room and watch movies and Bob and I would share the pull-out couch. Later, Bob and I became roommates and slept in the same room. The two of us sleeping in the same room, even in the same bed, was not uncommon. There had never been anything, but friendship between us. I truly thought of him as my Little Brother.

Still, a group of members decided later that evening to enter the room without permission and take pictures of us sleeping next to each other. Let me be clear. The pictures they took were of us sleeping next to each other. One of us on a couch and one of us on a futon, no physical contact, fully clothed (I was even wearing an extra layer of clothes in the form of a sweatshirt.)

A week later, I was accused by a group of people who had convinced Bob that I had assaulted him in his sleep. My entire world came crashing down around me. I was devastated. I was broken hearted, and though it's been two years now I still feel there are pieces of my heart missing.


CHAPTER FOUR: TITLE IX
The day after Thanksgiving break was the day I found out about the accusation. Hanover College's Associate Dean and Title IX Coordinator, Casey Heckler, who is perhaps the most incompetent woman on the face of God's Green Earth, emailed me and demanded I come to her office. After several email exchanges, I had to skip class (where I later received a failing grade) so that she could hand me a red folder including a few obscure documents, one of which said I had been accused of violating the school's sexual misconduct code.

That's it.

She handed me a folder and showed me to the door.

I was stunned, sobbing, and unsure what to do, so I texted my Academic Advisor and asked if I could come to his office. That is the first place I went. When I walked in, I couldn't even speak, I just sat in one of the chairs in his office and sobbed before handing him the letter. He seemed as shocked as I did by the accusation because he was familiar with the close friendship Bob and I shared.

What followed were a number of meetings that my Academic Advisor helped arrange. One of them was with my Fraternity Advisor, Dennis Stutsman of the Kentucky Attorney General's Office, who looked at me skeptically and in a condescending tone implied that I had definitely done what I had been accused of doing and that he had no interest in helping me. This is the same man that had previously relayed to me, in great detail, his salacious sexual exploits at the college as an undergraduate. One of those stories included having sex with another student in the fraternity house in front of an open window while members from the house next to them watched. To put it lightly, he was in no position to stand in judgement of others.

The second meeting was with the Registrar, another man for whom I had great respect, who helped me try to find academic solutions to cope with the immense emotional strain the situation was putting on me. He and my Academic Advisor may have been the only two people at that school who tried to help.

Despite their best efforts, Ms. Heckler, continually bungled her responsibilities as Title IX Coordinator. See my previous blog post for a more detailed list of her failures.

During this time I also received constant harassment from the group of men who helped coordinate my accusation. I got letters in my campus mail box, anonymous texts, tweets, facebook messages, dirty looks. When I reported it to Ms. Heckler, do you know what she did? Absolutely nothing.

This all culminated in my suicide attempt and a lengthy stay in a mental institution leading up to Christmas. From that moment forward, I was no longer mentally capable of handling the situation on my own and my family took over management of the case.


CHAPTER FIVE: ACCUSATION P.2
As of December, according to my current transcript and the Registrar's office, I was officially withdrawn from Hanover College. In January of 2016 I returned to the school to see a group of my close friends who had helped me greatly throughout the process and had all offered to testify on my behalf (two of them were allowed to do so.)

At this point, my first hearing, where most of the violations of my rights took place, had finished and the board had had more than the prescribed time limit to deliberate. So, I emailed Casey Heckler and asked her the status of the case. I also informed her that I was on campus that day and was free to meet with her. Several hours later I received an email saying I had been accused a second time. At that point, I had another mental break and informed her that she should cease all contact with me and informed her we were getting an attorney. She complied.

Who was my accuser this time? The man who had assaulted me a year earlier.

We found a competent, affordable attorney in Margaret Valois, after scrounging and begging for money from relatives. Hanover College knew we meant business and at least tried to start complying with their own policies (though they continued to come up short.)

In February of 2016 I was on campus for a second hearing when I found out I was found not responsible for the first case. I believe it was my attorney who said it looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders and I'm sure that was true. Like I said, the first accusation broke my heart. The second one was just made me angry.

The group of men coordinating my accusations were infuriated that I was found not responsible. One of them even tweeted "dont worry, his celebration will be short lived." The implication was clear. They would be accusing me again and again and again until I was expelled. That man is a monster.

Immediately after being found not responsible for the first accusation, I went into my second hearing. This time, like I said, I was admittedly afforded more rights, but there were still a long list of disgusting policy violations including bias. The members of the hearing panel were all close friends with my assailant turned accuser and they used my mental health as part of their rationale for eventually finding me responsible.

Yes, I was eventually found responsible and expelled, but what was I responsible for? According to the notes on the board's findings:
  • Both parties agree oral sex was performed on Mr. Andrews
  • Both parties agree no consent was given.
To this day I cannot fathom how I could have been responsible... for being assaulted, while passed out.


CHAPTER SIX: FIGHTING BACK
In June of 2016 we filed a lengthy complaint against Hanover College with the Office for Civil Rights. By August of 2016 they had accepted my complaint and began their investigation, which is still ongoing. We are very hopeful for an outcome in our favor.

I also became a large voice in the movement against unfair regulations that put accused students across our nation at a disadvantage in these campus proceedings. I have met with every single Senator and Representative office in Washington D.C.; I've met with an unbelievable number of state legislators; I was invited by Secretary DeVos to join her summit on sexual assault to share this story; I have had meetings with other Education Department officials to further inform them on this issue; I serve on the Board of Directors of one of the best damn organizations, with some of the best damn people on the planet; and I have appeared in countless national and local publications, on radio stations, and on television programs to talk about this issue.

I can honestly say I am doing better now than anyone that was involved in subverting justice or harming me. I have even found it in my heart to forgive Bob for his part in all of it (the others can still eat it.)

I am stronger now than I have ever been before. I am stronger now than I would have been had none of this ever happened to me. I will continue fighting for students like me until we have a lasting solution to sexual assault and due process issues in our country.


Comments

  1. You are amazing!!! Thank you for speaking out and being such a wise soul.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I had my own sad and heartbreaking experience with Kent State University. In my circumstance the school did not follow it own rules and afforded me absolutely NO due process.They also indulged in falsification of evidence to justified there actions.

    I am glad you are now able to better cope with what happen to you. Even after two plus years of counseling, some days I fine it extremely hard to get through them.

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    Replies
    1. If you ever need someone to talk to, please dont hesitate to reach out privately at jonathonpandrews@gmail.com

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