Ex-employee: Time for Pima College to 'take out trash' | Guest opinion
Sponsored by

Note: This story is more than 3 years old.

Guest opinion

Ex-employee: Time for Pima College to 'take out trash'

I was employed at Pima Community College from December 2005 until my resignation in January 2010. I served as both an IT technician and specialist, those positions being non-exempt staff. I am one of the many former PCC employees who quit because I could no longer tolerate the toxic working environment, and administration's refusal to do anything to fix it.

Like many current and former PCC staffers, I am pleasantly surprised that the Higher Learning Commission listened to our concerns and our pain and took them seriously. As pleased as I am about the HLC's report, I am left with a concern. That concern is there seems to be too much focus on the former chancellor and the people he victimized, and not enough focus on others. Just because someone wasn't sexually harassed by the former chancellor doesn't mean that their suffering should be dismissed. There were many more than eight PCC employees that were mistreated over the last decade, and Flores hardly had a monopoly on breaking the rules and abusing subordinates.

Speaking to my own situation, while I wasn't sexually harassed I personally was subjected to many things the HLC mentions in their report, including:

  • bullying
  • demeaning and berating actions
  • verbal abuse
  • intimidation
  • inappropriate use of the institution's discipline process
  • being told that offering a view differing from the campus president could be detrimental to my employment
  • being denied opportunities to interview for positions for which I was qualified, as well as other abuses of the hiring system

Dr. Flores didn't do any of these things to me. On the contrary, I doubt he ever knew who I was…but I still endured all these things here at PCC.

Unlike some others at PCC, I wasn't afraid to speak my mind, and I didn't keep any of this a secret. I went to supervisors. I went to administrators. I went to HR. In each and every case, I was either outright ignored, or my complaints were swept under the rug. Not once were any of my issues ever responded to with any action that had any realistic chance of resolving the situation.

At least Dr. Flores is gone now. In the case of the abuses I endured, each and every person responsible for them, as well as those who helped the perpetrators cover them up…they all still work here. Each and every one of them still works here. And, to the best of my knowledge, not one of them ever had to answer for their unjustified and unprovoked actions.

I'm not alone. I'm not a special case or an isolated incident. I am far from the only PCC staffer at a lower pay grade who was abused here. Many of my colleagues here were also mistreated, and none of us deserved it.

In PCC's response to the HLC's report, PCC says they "recognize and accept full responsibility for the serious breaches of integrity in College administration and governance". Accepting responsibility MUST include doing what needs to be done to make right the multiple wrongs committed by HR, administrators, and the lower levels of management. Just adding new policies is a meaningless gesture when the policies PCC did have were not uniformly enforced.

Like what you're reading? Support high-quality local journalism and help underwrite independent news without the spin.

PCC's policies in the past have always been to attempt to figuratively beat a square peg in to a round hole, refusing to accept the fact that it will never, ever fit. It is long past time for PCC management to end this idiotic practice, and finally accept that you can't train a bad supervisor to be a good one, and you can't train a bad person to be a good one, either. We're all adults here, and there's several basic concepts of being a person that we all should already know, having learned them in our formative years. Anyone who doesn't know by now how to properly conduct themselves and how to treat others is never going to learn at this point. You can't teach character.

PCC's management, at all levels, needs to finally accept the fact that people are who they are. Continuing to deny this obvious fact hurts many more people than it helps, will keep PCC's work environment hostile indefinitely, and will hold PCC back from healing its many wounds.

In short, it is time to finally stop futilely trying to "retrain" the bad people, and it is time to start firing them. No more denial, no more stalling, no more secrets, no more excuses. Get rid of the bad people before you lose any more good ones. It is impossible for those who contributed to creating the current problems to be part of the solution to them. Additionally, those who demonstrated themselves to be of low character in PCC's past do not deserve to be part of PCC's future.

You can't clean any house without taking out the trash. It is time that PCC stops hoarding their trash and finally throws it away. In so doing, you will give a little overdue justice to the others that anguished here, too.

- 30 -
have your say   

2 comments on this story

Apr 23, 2013, 11:32 am
-1 +1

There’s something else I have been debating whether or not to talk about publicly, and I have decided to say something. I’ll put it here since this is the piece concerning my speech given at the latest BOG meeting…

I learned that the “culture of fear and retribution” still exists at PCC. And, I also learned that apparently a lot of people read the comments posted on the Tucson Sentinel. Either that, or the comments on my Facebook page get around the PCC community, even toward the top.

When I was at the meeting, members of AFSCME Local 449 (which I was a proud member of) that were in attendance who I knew treated me as if I had never left.

My former union brothers aside, other PCC employees who I do know and do have good relationships with and have kept touch with since I left…a lot of them treated me as if I were some sort of leper or something. Don’t get me wrong. They were somewhat cordial. They acknowledged my presence, said hello, and most shook my hand, but after that, it was as if they couldn’t get away from me fast enough.

Though I don’t condone it, I get it. They’re scared. They don’t want to be seen by the administration chatting up one of the whistle-blowers. While PCC doesn’t fire anyone (big part of the problem there), they have ways of freezing your career where it is and making your life miserable in so many other ways. I know. I experienced it first-hand, and I’ve seen others go through it, too.

My point is that those who run PCC apparently have yet to get to work on fixing the “culture of fear and retribution”.

Apr 13, 2013, 8:39 pm
-1 +3

Thanks for publishing this, Dylan.

For the record, I have no delusions. I know the only effect this will have at PCC is that I caused three people some slight discomfort and embarrassment for a few moments at the BOG meeting. That’s it. And I knew that’s all it would do.

My main motivation was to make it known to as many people as I realistically could that Flores was far from the only asshole at PCC, and he deserves but a fraction of the credit for the shape it is currently it.

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Click image to enlarge

Kynn Bartlett/Wikimedia

Editor's note

Former PCC employee Bret Linden (and frequent Sentinel commenter) was one of about a dozen speakers Wednesday night at a meeting of the college's Governing Board. This is the statement he read to the Board.