National LGBTQ Org. ‘Investigating’ bautista Removal

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ATHENS (WOUB) — A national organization that ranks universities on their LGBTQ friendliness is looking into the termination of the former LGBT Center director, and assessing whether or not Ohio University administration’s actions should impact their ranking.

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In a letter sent March 15 notifying OU President Duane Nellis of their plans to “investigate,” Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, said he was told of the termination of LGBT Center director delfin bautista’s contract “through concerns of your current students (particularly your students of color) at Ohio University and then subsequent news reports.”

“Before we escalate this any further on our end, I wanted to be sure Campus Pride has a clear understanding of the situation,” Windmeyer wrote in the letter. “Plus, I wanted to make you aware of how this calls into question and may ultimately impact your LGBTQ-friendly rating nationally.”

Nellis responded to the letter on Wednesday, saying he understood why “reports of these changes could cause you concern.”

“Viewing the issues from the scope of local media coverage, a reader could believe that hard but necessary staffing decisions were not fair,” Nellis wrote. “Moreover, the removed LGBT Center Director at issue was very popular with some students and community members.”

In Nellis’ response, he said he understood “disappointed supporters” would share their concerns over the situation, but deemed it “far less likely” that members of the university who supported the decision would contact the organization. He said he does not believe bautista’s removal “created an unsafe, or at best unsupportive learning environment,” contrary to claims made to College Pride.

Dr. Gigi Secuban

Campus Pride is the curator of the Campus Pride Index, which is used to “assess and improve” LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs and practices, according to the organization. OU touted its designation as an LGBTQ-friendly online college in a news release in July 2018, mentioning Campus Pride’s index as one of the indicators.

Windmeyer told WOUB the organization is speaking with students and staff from OU, not only about bautista’s removal, but also the head of OU’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion.

“Campus Pride has received numerous complaints specifically about Dr. Gigi Secuban for mis-pronouning students repeatedly, her lack of knowledge for LGBTQ issues and for not fostering an inclusive climate for LGBTQ youth,” Windmeyer said in the letter.

He added that the organization has “gathered similar information” from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where Secuban worked before coming to OU,  regarding her “doing the same to LGBTQ youth and having a similar administrative situation on that campus.”

Nellis has asked for a phone conversation with Windmeyer, with other OU administration including Secuban.

“Competing narratives will do little to aid you in measuring the scope of the university’s commitment or to satisfy your concerns,” Nellis wrote.