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William Hussey, a music theory professor at the Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, recently lost his job in the wake of sexual assault allegations by one of his former students.
The allegations first emerged in July through personal accounts from Emily Zwijack, a fourth-year music education and violin student, via the Instagram account @sashassastory. Zwijack said she originally hoped her story would remain anonymous, but as classmates began to put the pieces together and rumors circulated, she came forward as the author of the account. Shortly after, a petition was created by another student calling for the university to fire Hussey.
Zwijack submitted a formal report to the university’s Title IX office in early August. But the university president, Ali R. Malekzadeh, said in an Aug. 15 email to the campus that Hussey “has separated from” and is “no longer employed” by Roosevelt. The Title IX investigation was dropped as a result. Neither the university nor Zwijack have publicly named Hussey, but his name was included in university documents obtained by Inside Higher Ed.
“I was really angry, because that was the easy way out,” Zwijack said of Hussey’s “separation” from the university. “It doesn’t stay on his record—he can apply to teach anywhere else now.”
She said she knew the investigation would be emotionally difficult for her, but “I was willing to put myself through it to get justice and to get him the consequences he deserved.”
Hussey did not reply to email and voice-mail requests for comment.
Mike Kaluzny, associate vice president of marketing and communications, said in an email that university administrators began looking into Zwijack’s allegations as soon as they were made aware of them.
“Our administrative team worked diligently to make certain that the process was thorough, fair, efficient, and ensured that all members of our community felt safe and free to come forward without fear of retaliation,” Kaluzny wrote.
Zwijack said she began confiding in Hussey the fall of her second year, shortly after her mother had been diagnosed with cancer.
“Since I already had known Hussey, and he was currently teaching one of my classes, I opened up to him first about what was going on at home,” she said.
Zwijack said Hussey later invited her to join his family for Mass when Zwijack told him she wouldn’t be getting together with her own family for Christmas. She said the relationship “progressed” from there, starting with conversations about alcohol and past sexual relationships and eventually resulting in lengthy explicit fantasies over text messages (some of which are screenshotted and included in Zwijack’s Instagram posts), requests for illicit photos and videos, and physical sexual assault in his office.
“It was done in a very grooming way where it wasn’t super out of the blue,” Zwijack said, adding that Hussey’s actions became more brazen over time.
“He told me … ‘you cannot say a word about this to anybody, otherwise you’re gonna hurt my family and my job.’ So I was very careful to not say anything,” Zwijack said. “It wasn’t until I was away from him, then this summer that I fully processed everything."
Zwijack is still enrolled at Roosevelt and returned to the campus Monday for the start of the new academic year. She said that while being on campus was “very triggering,” it was “nice not having to worry about running into him.”
“It’s also important to note that although I might have been the first one that he assaulted in his office, it’s not unusual behavior for him,” she said. “There were a few other students that came out anonymously.”
The university’s music conservatory has dealt with similar allegations in the past. In 2019, Roosevelt students took to social media to raise concerns about then theater professor and associate dean Sean Kelley, who they said had long been “abusive” and “toxic.”
The petition claimed Kelley had been known “for years” and “for his inappropriate sexual harassment and behavior towards many of the young men” at the college.
Multiple students said formal complaints against the professor went nowhere or were dropped by the university. Kelley’s name no longer appears in the university’s faculty directory.