This will be a tough one to stomach if you’re a JMU Duke, or if you’re simply a sane person who believes in justified punishment.
Sarah Butters, a student at James Madison University, visited Panama City Beach with friends in 2013 for spring break. It was a typical college beach trip up until the night of March 3, when Butters, along with a group of friends, went back to a condo for some late night drinking. Butters blacked out at some point in the night and wasn’t able to recall how the remainder of the evening turned out the following morning.
She heard rumors that she was the subject of some inappropriate behavior, but she didn’t want to believe them. She cited her friendship with the alleged perpetrators as the reason. It wasn’t until she returned to campus in Harrisonburg that the rumors turned to reality, and that reality was horrifying.
Images and a video of the incident had surfaced, showing a topless Butters on a bathroom floor, surrounded by three JMU Sigma Chi brothers–identified as Mike Lunney, Jay Dertzbaugh, and Nick Scallion–who were laughing and groping her lifeless body.
After discussing the incident–a clear sexual assault case–with her father, a cop, she decided not to notify the PCB police. Instead, they turned over the video to school officials, who handled the situation absolutely pathetically. The punishment? The three JMU students were handed expulsions AFTER graduation. After. Graduation. They essentially told them to finish school, then, just, you know, don’t come back. Embarrassing.
An e-mail from JMU’s Office of Judicial Affairs titled “Final Decision in your Case” reads that all three students, Mike Lunney, Jay Dertzbaugh and Nick Scallion were responsible for sexual assault and harassment. It went on to say that the three would be expelled upon graduation, meaning they may not be on JMU’s campus for any reason after graduation. They would also not be allowed to walk at graduation.
Oh, but it’s cool because they also aren’t allowed to “walk” at graduation, which I’m sure was devastating news for these guys to hear they weren’t allowed to sit through a thrilling, three-hour ceremony and speech before receiving a piece of paper.
I know where I went to school, and I think it’s pretty standard across the board, that we were told we’d be immediately expelled for cheating on an exam. CHEATING ON AN EXAM–something that, hell, we all did.
Lace ’em up, JMU.
UPDATE: We have learned that the three guys are no longer members of Sigma Chi after getting kicked out.