Home Campus The fired director of the LGBT center accused their boss of creating a “hostile” work environment. Here’s what you need to know.

The fired director of the LGBT center accused their boss of creating a “hostile” work environment. Here’s what you need to know.

9 min read
OU LGBT Center

Complaints made by former LGBT Center Director delfin bautista* against the supervisor who fired them were made public after they were fired as the center’s director last week.

The director of the Ohio University LGBT Center was placed on paid administrative leave and told their contract wouldn’t be renewed on Jan. 10, according to documents obtained by The New Political.

delfin bautista, who has directed Ohio U’s LGBT center since June 2013, will be paid through the remaining portion of their contract, which expires at the end of June.

In a statement, Ohio U spokesperson Carly Leatherwood said the university appreciated bautista’s contributions as LGBT Center director.

“The University cannot comment on personnel matters, but it is important to note that this is not a decision that was made or communicated lightly,” Leatherwood said in an email to TNP.

WOUB News reported bautista was informed about their termination by Gigi Secuban, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion at Ohio U. Secuban allegedly laughed when she informed them about their termination, according to the report.

“I knew that Dr. Secuban and I didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on things, but had hope that we could work it out,” bautista told WOUB News. “There was no notice, there was no warning, no previous disciplinary actions. It was ‘I’m going in a different direction.’”

The report also mentioned that bautista said they were locked out of their Ohio U email account and that colleagues received automatic emails that bautista was no longer employed by the university before bautista was informed about their termination.

Secuban allegedly told bautista that the university planned to go in a different direction with the center, but wouldn’t elaborate on that direction. Leatherwood did not elaborate on any changes that could occur beyond bautista’s departure.  

During their tenure at Ohio U, bautista helped facilitate several changes, including the creation of gender neutral housing and a policy change that allowed students to go by their preferred name and pronouns.

There’s been strong support for the ousted director, who did not respond to The New Political’s request for comment. According to The Athens News, around 90 people protested outside Cutler Hall in support of bautista on Friday. Meanwhile, inside, Ohio U President Duane Nellis confirmed to reporters that Secuban was responsible for the decision, but he would not elaborate about why she decided to terminate bautista.

A history of complaints

bautista filed a complaint with the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) in September 2018 claiming Secuban created a hostile work environment. In an email they sent alongside their complaints, bautista said they feared ramifications of the complaint.

They accused Secuban of micromanaging their work, despite claiming she planned to do the opposite. bautista also alleged Secuban required they forward all media inquiries to her before responding, which wasn’t mandated under previous leadership.

Furthermore, bautista alleged Secuban refused to listen to concerns regarding their work hours, which Secuban allegedly required bautista change. Other complaints included unreturned emails, delayed meetings and an accusation that Secuban ignored bautista’s input in the search to find assistant directors and an administrative associate for the LGBT Center.

The complaint stated that bautista felt paranoid, not viewed as a professional, and believed that Secubuan was trying to intimidate them or catch them doing something incorrectly. Since her hire, bautista claimed Secuban visited the LGBT Center just three times.

“I am not sure if it is because I am latinx, trans, queer … I am not sure if it is because she perceives me as male … I am not sure if she just doesn’t like me,” bautista wrote in their complaint. “I do not feel safe coming to work and do not feel safe in my position.”

But in an October 2018 response, Ohio U Civil Rights Investigator G. Antonio Anaya said bautista’s complaints did not meet ECRC’s gatekeeping function, that there was nothing discriminatory about Secuban’s actions, and that she was well within her authority as Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.

“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.

Secuban is Ohio U’s first Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. She was appointed to the role by Nellis in May 2018.

The search for a replacement

Leatherwood said in an email that the LGBT Center would continue operations as usual without bautista as the university began the search for a new leader.

“Diversity and inclusion is Ohio University’s top priority, and this very difficult decision was made in order to advance our commitment to and support of the LGBTQ+ community,” Leatherwood said.

Meanwhile, Winsome Chunnu, Ohio U’s Strategic Director for Diversity and Inclusion and Multicultural Programs and Initiatives, took over operations at the center through Monday. The university said other staff members would assume the role until an interim director was named, according to The Athens Messenger.


*bautista uses they/them pronouns and prefers the lowercase spelling of their name

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Connor Perrett

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

First-time and young voter participation could surge in 2018 midterms

Less than a week remains until the 2018 midterm elections, and the question of whether fir…