deflin bautista at a Pride event June, 2018 (Jordan Kelley | WOUB Visuals)

Details From Ousted LGBT Director’s Complaint Against Supervisor

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Editor’s Note: delfin bautista uses the pronoun they/their and does not capitalize their name.

ATHENS (WOUB) — On September 25, 2018, delfin bautista, then director of Ohio University’s LGBT Center, sent a report to the university’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) regarding their interaction with new supervisor Dr. MaryJane (Gigi) Secuban.

As Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, Secuban oversees the office that includes, the LGBT Center, the Multicultural Center, the Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention (OMSAR), and the Women’s Center. Each center has a director. Each director is referenced as a contract administrator whose position must be renewed each fiscal year.

  “I am writing with concerns that have been percolating for some time now and I am not sure how best to address them. I fear ramifications for my position at OHIO…”

Less than four months after sending that email, Secuban informed bautista that they would be removed from their position, effective immediately, and placed on paid administrative leave until their contract expired on June 30, 2019.

The report depicts Secuban as a person who is not interested in engaging with the LGBT Center or the students who congregate there.

“She has come to the LGBT Center 3 times in the last two months, when I or my staff engage her she quickly leaves and just says she is popping in. I have tried to introduce her to the students and staff of the center but she leaves quickly … the sense I feel is that she is trying to catch me doing something wrong and intimidate me.”

bautista also calls Secuban’s management style into question after the professional staff was told “to come to work showered, in clean clothing” and hours were shifted without considering the student programming that often takes place after 5 p.m. although the university provides a policy for flexible work schedule options.

“During the meeting, there was no time to question or discuss the changes and we were all forced to sign a statement that we agreed to the new changes, many of us signed under duress and fear of consequences if we didn’t,” bautista writes. bautista goes on to say Secuban often ignored their emails regarding key questions and policy changes. While clearly concerned, bautista also adds they are mindful that “changes aren’t always easy and perhaps that is what I am experiencing.”

“Therefore, there would have to be some evidence of, or reason to believe that, Dr. Secuban is acting on the basis of an inappropriate discriminatory intent on the basis of your being a member of a protected class under Ohio University Policy 40.001.”

One week after that email, on October 2, G. Antonio Anaya, a civil rights investigator with ECRC  wrote bautista.

“You described a number of actions that have been taken that you feel undermine you and devalue your abilities and expertise… All of these actions are well within Dr. Secuban’s authority as the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion; there is nothing inherently discriminatory about any of these acts. “

The report shows bautista stated uncertainty as to why Secuban might be targeting them.

“If you yourself are not sure if Dr. Secuban’s behaviors are subjectively on the basis of your being a member of a protected class, it is almost impossible to determine that they objectively constituted harassment,” Anaya said.

“Not having a doctorate degree is not a protected class under University policy.”

Anaya also explained, “And while it might not seem ‘fair,’ it is not a discriminatory violation of Ohio University policy to treat employees differently based on their level of education, i.e., having a PhD.”

Anaya’s then invited bautista to reach out if any other incidents happen that might reflect a policy violation. Anaya does not mention whether he talked with Secuban.

According to bautista, and the records WOUB News received from the university on January 12, 2019, bautista’s October 16, 2018, email regarding deeper concerns that they wanted added to their file did not receive a response from Anaya or anyone else at ECRC.

In that correspondence, bautista wrote,  “…things have become more intense”  then relayed incidents where the Office for Diversity and Inclusion’s executive assistant, Amanda Graham, clashed with them including on Monday, October 15, “I was getting ready to leave at 6 p.m., the audit team showed up unannounced with Amanda Graham and were first surprised that I was here and surprised that I was able to show all purchases requested. The sense I have is they are trying to catch me doing something and building a case against me. “ At the time bautista didn’t know that all of the directors were being audited. WOUB News is told by several people with knowledge of the audit that no financial irregularities were found.

 If [I] am pushed out of my position by being forced to resign or being terminated, I worry that Gigi and Amanda are working to create a falsified image of me and destroy by professional reputation.

In another incident, bautista says Graham told them that it wasn’t pertinent or necessary that a potential new employee of the LGBT Center have experience working with the LGBT community. bautista writes that the conversation ended with Graham yelling at and hanging up on them.

bautista ends the email, “I am happy to meet again. Regardless of outcome, I would like this email added to my file so that there is a record of my concerns and the hostile/unsafe work environment being created for me and ultimately for LGBT people on this campus.”

You can access all of the documents referenced in this article here: Bautista ECRC Communications_Redacted