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

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

  • Kynn Bartlett/Wikimedia

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.

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.

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