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CMU suspends pair after fallout over Bucholz sexual harassment allegations

By: - March 26, 2021 3:15 pm

T.J. Bucholz | Vanguard Public Affairs

Two Central Michigan University staff members have been suspended as the university investigates claims of sexual harassment against CMU alumnus and Vanguard Public Relations owner T.J. Bucholz.

The allegations were first reported by Eclectablog, a progessive news and commentary blog, after Michigan LGBTQ+ activist Emily Dievendorf, who was a former employee under Bucholz, shared on Facebook her story of alleged sexual harassment at Vanguard.

After Dievendorf’s initial post, five women came forward about their experiences with Bucholz, all of whom worked for Vanguard between 2016 and 2019.

The allegations included inappropriate comments regarding the women’s bodies, offers to join him in a sexual threesome, showing off a gun to one of the women, urging her to “touch it,” among many other allegations, as reported by the Detroit Free Press Wednesday. 

Central Michigan Life, CMU’s student newspaper, named journalism faculty member Steve Coon and student media adviser Dave Clark as the two university staff members who were temporarily removed from their positions. The university is trying to determine whether these staff members were aware of allegations of sexual harassment taking place at Vanguard.

“We are aware of the allegations that have come to light against Vanguard Public Affairs, which include a connection to a current CMU faculty member,” CMU spokesman John Veilleux said. “We also received reports that a staff member may have been aware of the situation. We are taking immediate action to thoroughly investigate this matter, and both employees have been removed from all duties and any student contact.”

The Michigan Advance left a message for Bucholz at Vanguard.

Bucholz unsuccessfully ran for Eaton County Board of Commissioners in 2020 as a Democratic candidate and served on the board of Downtown Lansing, Inc. (DLI), an organization that promotes the city’s downtown. However, on Thursday he was asked to resign from the board by Mayor Andy Schor. 

“As a leadership organization in our community, it is our responsibility to make downtown a comfortable and safe space for all. One part of ensuring an equitable and welcome space is our conviction that all victims should be believed and heard — and acting on that conviction when necessary. Therefore, Mr. Bucholz will no longer be serving on our board.” the DLI said in a statement.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.