The president of Lane’s employee union has removed the volunteer chairwoman from the college’s advisory committee responsible for diversity issues.
At the behest of Lane Community College Employee Federation President Bob Baldwin, Elizabeth Andrade was notified via email during winter break of her removal from the Diversity Council.
In the email, Baldwin wrote that Andrade had chosen a negative approach when she publicly disparaged those representing Lane’s employee and faculty unions in the college’s governance system.
“As Federation president, I can no longer have you using (your) Federation appointment to engage in your own personal agenda,” Baldwin wrote.
Baldwin was unavailable to comment and Andrade declined to comment.
The college is passing a policy requiring its employees to complete some form of diversity training. The initiative to pass a policy concerning cultural competency has spanned several years — and has gained considerable steam during the past 12 months.
Four proposals were brought before the College Council in May 2013, but all four were left at the table after council members failed to reach consensus.
Lane President Mary Spilde said the council’s failure to reach consensus stemmed from the inclusion of procedural language in the policies themselves.
During the Dec. 3 Lane Board of Education meeting, Spilde said including procedure into policy (requiring 18 hours of diversity training, for example) was unnecessary.
As long as the policy clearly stated the college’s commitment to establishing some form of diversity training, Spilde said, “that’s all it needs to say.”
Andrade was invited before the board during the December meeting to present a short chronology on the cultural competency policy. During Andrade’s presentation, she said Lane’s Diversity Council began considering a cultural competency policy at the council’s formation in Spring 2008 — and since then has failed to reach consensus on five separate occasions.
“Just because of one vote,” Andrade said.
According to the college’s governance system manual, the removal was within Baldwin’s rights. However, his decision still brought controversy.
Some union members publicly voiced their disapproval during the Jan. 8 Board of Education meeting.
At the meeting, Andrade said she was saddened by her removal and considered the move to be a tremendous abuse of power by Baldwin.
“It feels like a witch-hunting,” Andrade said. “(It was like) nails on the chalkboard, because I have the audacity to bring (forth) the issues the governance system was having.”
Andrade spoke before the board during its November and December meetings to detail the lineage of Lane’s initiative to establish a diversity education policy for its employees.
“I don’t understand what he means when he said I ‘chose an approach of negativity and public disparagement,’” Andrade said at the meeting.
Workforce Development Career Pathways Coordinator Rosa Lopez, who sits on the Learning Council, said she was deeply bothered by Andrade’s removal from the Diversity Council.
“As far as I know, there was no justification or reasoning behind it,” Lopez said.
Lopez said she spoke with Baldwin, and said she recognized Andrade’s removal was a union issue that will be dealt with internally. However, Lopez thinks the governance system is ineffective because the union leadership has the authority to appoint and remove people from the Diversity Council.
“We have no entity on this campus with the focus on diversity that would have been able to appoint its members with or without the approval of union leadership,” Lopez said.
Lane Student Adviser Claudia Riumallo also spoke at the meeting, where she said she was very concerned about the state of the governance system after Andrade’s firing.
“What happened to Elizabeth Andrade is scary to me,” Riumallo said. “I’m afraid I will not ever be represented — and if I bring up an issue, I wonder if I will be safe.”
Andrade was appointed to the Diversity Council at its inception.
Despite her removal, Andrade still attended the Diversity Council’s Jan. 15 meeting.
Donna Zmolek, Lane’s assistant to the president, said, “Some people were saying (Baldwin) didn’t really have the authority to kick (Andrade) off in the first place, so was she ever really off? I’m not sure.”