I had my individual meeting this week with Chancellor Lambert and Attorney Silvyn to discuss how Pima Community College was going to stand up to its promise to the Higher Learning Commission to “make whole,” the women sexually harassed by Flores. All of us suffered mightily at his perverted hands which wrought emotional and economic damage. Nineteen months after the Board acknowledged our stories were real and credible, and five months after PCC promised the HLC it would take care of things, we all still wait while the PCC Board continues its Three Stooges act with Larry, Curly and Moe abandon.
I know there are those within PCC who are sick of the women’s stories. Who say, hey, I was abused too. What about me? I know there are those who are saying, get over it, move on, get with the program of taking PCC into a new era.
Please know that is the goal of every one of us. But please know also we are the canaries in the coal mine for every one of you who suffered in the hostile PCC environment, and this canary is squawking mightily to warn you to wake up and realize just how thoroughly this Board remains asleep at the wheel.
My meeting with lawyers Lambert and Silvyn was not pleasant and lasted only 30 minutes. Lambert’s opening line was, and I paraphrase, we will not pay you a penny. Ok, I thought, a great start. As we argued our way through a conversation that included at least 10 “Jacquelyn, Jacquelyn’s” as they both sought to convince me that PCC’s narrow definition of “make whole” made perfect sense and it was me being uncooperative in not getting with their very narrow definition, which they made clear could only include:
- No money.
- Pleased to consider me for any new position for which I might apply (which I assume would be available to me even if I were not among the harassed).
- The privilege of volunteering my time to help PCC create processes to prevent future harassment.
- Maybe an apology from the Board that Lambert said he could ask for but not guarantee.
- There was not a fifth although they kept inviting me to come up with something within the rigid parameters they had made crystal clear from the outset. (Any ideas out there, let me know).
The only fifth thing I came up with was to walk out and hope the court of public opinion will come together to finally get a PCC Board in place that is not functionally blind and dumb. I realized after my meeting that it is not Lambert and Silvyn with whom I have issues. It is this Board
Why hasn’t this Board directed the Chancellor clearly and absolutely: GET THIS FIXED. I told Lambert during my meeting he had a real opportunity to be the Knight in Shining Armor. He is the new guy in town who could swoop in and make this right, do what PCC contractually stated to the HLC they would do: make whole the women who were sexually harassed. We want respect, professionalism and equity back in our lives, all of which we had had before Flores and Miles smeared their slimy hands through our careers and left us reeling, demoted, fired, angry and besmirched. I can only assume the lack of urgency and rigid qualification is Board endorsed.
My question to the Board: do you not realize how critical this is for accreditation to demonstrate to the HLC you are taking care of business? Did you not sign a document to them last March that included very specifically you would make us whole? There was no asterisk in your promise that conditioned it based on statutes of limitation or anything else. We believe you can find a way to do this – including some payment of all the money lost to those of us demoted and fired. You made the promise. And it is up to you, the Board, to forge an expedient and equitable solution.
I keep thinking of the Marx Brother’s movie Disorder in the Court where Curly, Moe and Larry are key witnesses to a murder. Four of the current PCC Board members similarly witnessed the “murder” of PCC during the Flores/Miles reign when legality, ethics, professionalism and respect for individuals were slaughtered daily with great abandon.
They sat in the Board room each month during all these years with Brenda and Marty acting mostly like Larry’s, smiling and bumbling and waiting for good things to happen without devising and enforcing a moral grand plan. Scott has been more Curly, blurting out statements with reckless abandon and reminding us with gleeful regularity that he is a libertarian. Longoria was not there during my tenure so I am not sure where he would fit in the scene but I do know a little more hot-tempered Moe behavior aimed at Flores and Miles years ago might have brought some order and sanity to PCC and spared this institution the probationary status in which it is now mired.
There are coordinated efforts afoot in the region to clear the decks and seat a real Board that takes command and protects the public’s trust and funds. I hope the public steps up over the coming months to make this happen. Our region has been damaged by the Board’s ineptitude and bumbling. Order in the court is what PCC and this region desperately need.