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Meet Ryan Lonergan, whose eight years of military service included a deployment in Iraq in 2009-10.
Ryan’s service to our country, and to his brothers in arms, is not yet done. Ryan has long been involved in helping veterans, and to that end he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in social work at George Williams College in Williams Bay, WI (an affiliate of Aurora University in Aurora, IL).
On Tuesday, October 6, Ryan publicly called out (in the school lunchroom) a fellow student who had falsely claimed (in elaborate detail) to having been a Marine infantry officer but who, when confronted by Ryan, confessed he’d made up the whole story.
The next day, the school initiated a disciplinary process — not against the student who’d falsely claimed to be a veteran, but against Ryan.
The story was broken by Santo Ingrilli on Oct. 12 in the Wisconsin Daily Independent (@WIdailyIN). Later that day, the godfather of Wisconsin conservative talk radio, Mark Belling of Milwaukee’s News/Talk 1130 WISN (who frequently guest hosts for Rush Limbaugh), expanded on the story, drawing on his interviews of Ryan and of Aurora University’s president.
Here is a video with Mark’s discussion, liberally illustrated, as usual, with various photos and videos:
For anyone who might have questions for the academic officials responsible for threatening a vet with discipline for calling out a student for falsely claiming to have been a Marine infantry officer, here is some contact information.
George Williams College
The Resident Hall Director who initiated the disciplinary process against Ryan by sending him this letter is Nathan Wagar. His contact information listed on the school’s website: e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: (262) 245-8572. Another possible e-mail is email@example.com; another possible phone number is (630) 220-4944.
The Dean of Academic and Student Life in charge of the disciplinary process (as mentioned in Wagar’s letter) is Kate Herrick. Her Linkedin page is here. Her e-mail is apparently firstname.lastname@example.org. Her direct dial is not listed on the school’s website, but the school’s general phone number is (262) 245-8564.
Based on a public records search, it appears her phone number at Aurora is (630) 892-6431. Likely e-mail addresses at Aurora include Sherrick@Aurora.edu, Rebecca.Sherrick@Aurora.edu, RSherrick@Aurora.edu, and R.Sherrick@Aurora.Edu.
Another likely phone number is (630) 966-1130. Other likely e-mail addresses include Sherrick@AOL.com, Rebecca.Sherrick@AOL.com, RLS1953@Comcast.net, and RSherrick@IBM.net.
Finally, given a recent incident involving Sherrick, there is irony in the fact that Sherrick presides over a university which has brought disorderly conduct charges against a vet merely for loudly cussing out, in a school lunchroom, a student who had falsely claimed to have served as a Marine infantry officer — and that (as Belling discusses at 8:25 of the above video clip) the university refuses to allow the vet to have an attorney present when he’s questioned at the disciplinary hearing.
Contrast this minor incident with the incident described by a woman living in a house just a block from the Aurora University campus who recently (in June, 2015) charged Sherrick herself with disorderly conduct. According to the official police report (originally uploaded here; blog post discussing it here), the woman complained that, angry about the woman’s fostered pit bull dog which had briefly gotten out of the back yard, Sherrick entered the woman’s house “without her permission,” “then identified herself as the President of Aurora University,” and started yelling at the woman.
Sherrick reportedly called the woman a “criminal for being a pit bull owner and continued to yell about how bad the pit bull breed was.” During her “tirade about pit bulls,” Sherrick “had her index finger in [the woman’s] face . . . no more than 6 inches away.” Sherrick’s yelling woke up the woman’s boyfriend, who had been sleeping on the couch.
According to the complaint, even though the woman asked Sherrick several times to leave, Sherrick would not leave. Sherrick “only left the residence after [the woman’s] boyfriend stood up and got behind the” woman.
When the police called Sherrick about the incident, Sherrick told them she would meet with the police concerning the allegations of disorderly conduct only with a lawyer present. By contrast, the university over which Sherrick presides refuses to permit Ryan Lonergan to have an attorney present for his questioning during the disciplinary proceeding it has initiated.
Update 1 (10/13, 11:50 p.m.): This morning Wisconsin conservative talk-show host Jerry Bader interviewed Ryan. To listen to the interview (starting at 4:30), go here. Jerry broke significant news in this interview. Four points stand out:
- Ryan says the disciplinary proceeding was initiated based on a complaint by the student who he called out as a fraud, for admittedly making up a story about having served as a Marine infantry officer. The student alleged that Ryan shoved him, and threatened physical violence, which Ryan categorically denies.
- The disciplinary hearing originally scheduled for this morning has been cancelled. As Jerry covers at about the 10-minute-mark of the audio, at 4:17 p.m. yesterday, after the Wisconsin Daily Independent had published its article in the morning, and just after Mark Belling had finished covering the story, the official in charge of the disciplinary proceeding (Kate Herrick; see above) wrote Ryan: “Ryan, because the hearing has gone to the media, we are consulting with the university’s attorneys. I will inform you when it is rescheduled.”
- Ryan has heard (11-minute mark) from students on campus that the student who he called out as a fraud apparently “packed up his car, and he skipped town, and he left school the same day that I called him out.”
- Even though the school has postponed the hearing on the disciplinary charge it has brought against him, Ryan remains barred from the campus, except to attend classes.
Update 2 (10/14, 12:30 a.m.): Milwaukee’s Fox affiliate aired an excellent segment on this story, in which Ryan was interviewed, in its 5 p.m. newscast on Oct. 13, which can be viewed here. Reporter A.J. Bayatpour indicated that Fox has been unable to find the student called out by Ryan.
Update 4 (10/14, 11:45 a.m.). The comments under the Wisconsin Daily Independent‘s original post on this story, which this blogger has just read, are invaluable. It turns out that the President of Aurora University, Dr. Rebecca L. Sherrick (see above) used the comments section to issue this statement, on Oct. 13, at 4:33 p.m. (her grammar, punctuation, and spelling leave something to be desired, but hey, she’s just a Ph.D who’s president of a university!):.
Hello. My name is Becky Sherrick and I am president of Aurora University, which includes George Williams College. I don’t usually respond to social media postings, but thought I might set the record straight.
1. Anytime [sic] an incident allegedly occurs on campus, a university is obligated to conduct an investigation. The alternative is to sweep things under the carpet, which we don’t do.
2. The first step in such a process is a hearing. We ask each student to share with us his or her side of the story. A hearing isn’t disciplinary. Ryan has not been punished. We are just trying to gather facts.
3. Usually attorneys aren’t invited to a campus hearing. This isn’t a matter in the civil or criminal courts. It is a campus fact-finding interview.
4. Though I once lived and worked in Wisconsin, I haven’t for almost twenty years and so was not familiar with the state’s Stolen Valor law. I asked for a brief period to learn more about this particular act from our attorney.
5. Why? Precisely because we do want to get it right. We don’t rush to judgement [sic]. And we don’t jump to conclusions. We respect the federally-guaranteed [sic] rights of all of our students to certain kinds of privacy. And we simply want to accord all involved an equal opportunity to due process.
6. Many of us are veterans. We have great respect for those who serve our country. We also have an obligation to look into what happened in our cafeteria. We just want to hear from all parties.
Today the Wisconsin Daily Independent did a followup post setting out, and discussing, President Sherrick’s comment, which is here.
Update 5 (10/14, noon): Today the Wisconsin Daily Independent posted an e-mail Ryan sent President Sherrick protesting how he has been treated, and requesting that the ban on him being on campus (except to attend classes) be lifted, and that all involved issue him written apologies. You can read it here.
Update 6 (10/14, 9 p.m.). This morning Jerry Bader did a followup radio segment on Ryan’s story, which is available online here. Here’s a trimmed version (with the 1 1/2 minute intro cut):
In his coverage of the story yesterday, Bader broke the news (see Update 1, above) that after the alternative media began covering this story, on the afternoon of Oct. 12 the college cancelled the disciplinary hearing scheduled for the morning of Oct. 13. Bader now reports that on the afternoon of Oct. 13, the college notified Ryan that it wanted to conduct the hearing the next morning, at 10:30 a.m., even though it knew Ryan’s attorney would not be available on that date. Ryan objected, leading the president of the college, Dr. Rebecca Sherrick, to send Ryan an e-mail explaining the situation, and defending the college’s handling of it — and, far from dropping the discipinary proceeding, proposing that Ryan travel to Illinois (to the main office of Aurora University) for a hearing on the disciplinary charges!
Here is the text of the president’s e-mail (as transcribed from what Jerry, and later Mark Belling, read on air). As indicated above, Ryan responded to this e-mail this morning (text here). Note Dr. Sherrick’s continuing inability (see Update 4 above) to write using correct English (in the last paragraph, she left out first the word “not,” and then left out the word “soon.” Of course, that’s understandable — she merely holds a Ph.D and is in charge of a university.
My understanding was that you were anxious to have the hearing as soon as possible, so the mistake may have been mine, not Dr. Herrick’s. We are willing to wait if that’s your preference.
At this point, my suggestion is that we hold the hearing on the Aurora campus, with a different hearing officer. The things that have been written and said about Dr. Herrick suggest to me that a change of this kind is warranted. I want to ensure a good process, and would understand completely if she prefers to step away.
Rather than asking her about this, I am making such a decision, and seeking your concurrence.
In the meantime, please know that the university does reserve the right to make it clear that you have not been disciplined. You have been invited to a hearing to present your side of the story.
It is our standard practice to ask students to focus on their academic work while waiting for such a process. None of this is something we made up for you, nor did we change any policies. We simply want our other students to be able to go forward with their usual lives on campus and we want to protect the rights of all involved.
My understanding is that the Stolen Valor law relates to those receiving unwarranted financial gain from claiming service in the military. I can assure you that the other student in this matter did not receive gain of any kind for making false claims of military service.
I was not familiar with the precise terms of the law, so when I began to receive messages and phone calls on the subject, I needed today to consult with our attorney to ensure that GWC [George Williams College] did not in any way violate this law. It is now clear that no one broke the law.
So we are left just with the question of what happened in the cafeteria. Please understand that I am [sic] weighing in on the merits of either side of the case, Ryan. As president, I am in the line of appeal. I am just trying to clarify the process. We look forward to meeting with you and your attorney at your conveninece. I will appreciate a response to me as [sic] you are able.
Becky Sherrick President, George Williams College of Aurora University
P.S.: I hope that I have the right e-mail address for your attorney. I found this online, and one is never compoletely sure about its accuracy. If it’s incorrect please forward this, Ryan. Thank you.
The best part of Jerry’s analysis is at roughly the six-minute mark, where Jerry concludes:
They have just FREAKED OUT, because this ended up in the alternative, the new, media. . . . If Ryan is telling the truth, and there are witnesses to corroborate it, he should be fine. But the university’s kneejerk reaction to treat him like a criminal is why they have been embarrassed. It is no one’s fault but their own.
And yeah, there is conservative talk radio in Wisconsin . . . so that people like Ryan have recourse, and they don’t have to suffer in silence.”