JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – After hours of public testimony over three meetings about claims of discrimination, the Jackson College Board of Trustees took action Monday night.
On a vote of 5-2, the Board directed President Daniel Phelan to review a multitude of allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
The move, however, is not what those who have experienced the discrimination wanted. They have been asking for an outside investigator, and two board members have publicly expressed support for an outsider to investigate the allegations raised in two board meetings.
“I never wore my natural hair just for the simple fact that I was scared that it would be one more thing that would be brought up in conversation behind my back being the only staff member who was a black woman at student services at the time,” says Tiffany Thomas during a board of trustees meeting Monday night.
She was adding her voice to a growing chorus of complaints about discrimination that some say are not being addressed by the college.
Board Vice Chair Sheila Patterson and Trustee Sam Barnes renewed their calls for an outside investigation.
“I am proud of this institution, and I am embarrassed that we are in this position that we are in now because we should not have to be,” Patterson told the packed room at Jackson College Monday.
The majority of the board overruled Patterson and Barnes and decided to keep the investigations in-house.
Chair John Crist says the college needs to use its current policies and procedures before hiring an outside investigator. He acknowledges Jackson College has issues, but he wants to see a report on those issues first.
“I think we need to take things into methodical order,” he tells 6 News. “We can’t jump one way or jump another way,” said Crist.
“Are we doing things correctly? I can’t say we are. Are we doing bad, real bad? Sounds like it, but again I would like to know from the administration.”
Phelan will have less than a month to collect the complaints the Board has heard over the last three meetings and compile them into a report. The report is due Oct. 16.