Employees criticize staff abuse report

In first forum since report’s release, staff said not enough done

By Maria Romas

Staff writer

Published: Sunday, October 16, 2011

http://www.diamondbackonline.com/news/employees-criticize-staff-abuse-report-1.2650428

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some university employee names have been withheld due to job security fears.

 

In the first public forum since the Human Resources Working Group reported its findings of alleged workplace abuse last month, employees across the campus spoke out against the report’s narrow focus.

About 70 students, faculty and staff gathered in the Nyumburu Cultural Center Friday night to vow to continue fighting for a better workplace environment. Many said the report — which details nine steps for improvement — glazes over the allegations and does not propose a lasting solution.

 

“That report was some crap — some BS to be blunt,” university construction specialist Abe Goodwin said at the forum. “The thing that made me the angriest was the detail to which the university tried to say this university is not a toxic workplace.”

 

However, university officials have deemed the case closed, and said the report fully addresses the issues brought to the university’s attention after administrators received an anonymous letter — in which Facilities Management employees described their and fearful — in March.

“This is not a study just gathering dust,” university President Wallace Loh said in an interview. “Almost every single major issue [the employees] raised were encompassed in these eight or nine recommendations. … We have taken them very seriously and in fact have begun immediately implementing remediate measures.”

 

However, many attendees at the forum said the report only scratches the surface of the allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and supervisor abuse.

While attendees at the event did not decide how to proceed next, many agreed a new plan of action is needed.

 

“A lot of people aren’t going to like what I have to say, and you might not see me on this campus anymore as an employee, but I’m going to fight. None of us had any control over who we are or where we were born … but one thing I’m not going let happen is someone treat me badly because of it,” an attendee said. “To be frank, what pisses me off is this report basically insulted these women that have been claiming they are sexually abused. … Rather than write an anonymous letter, I’m going to sign my name to the letter to President Loh.”

 

Many workers at the forum said the administration is not taking their complaints seriously.

 

“My perception is they pretend to care; everybody that works for the university answers to the president,” Goodwin said. “They are puppets. A lot of these people would not stand on their own two feet because they are too afraid for their doggone jobs.”

 

A university housekeeper said her manager treats her like a child, and she added that she and other employees feel expendable.

Employees at the forum resolved to ensure administrators and supervisors are held accountable for their actions.

 

“Any muscle that’s continually exercised just gets stronger,” Goodwin said. “All they are doing is strengthening my resolve — we will not back down.”

romas@umdbk.com