JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – The Jackson College Board of Trustees has selected an outside investigator after months of students and staff sharing complaints of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
Wednesday night’s meeting comes after the trustees voted to pursue the investigation last week. Calls for action continued along with support for people who brought their complaints forward.
“I believe they have been brave enough to come forward in order to save this college from itself,” said Sandy Dicesare, speaking to the board during public comment.
While the board voted on a law firm to take on the case, there were still many questions surrounding exactly what should be the focus.
Trustee Matthew Heins laid out a list of what he called “broad” concerns made up of dozens of complaints. Trustee Philip Hoffman said there’s a need to create a tight focus on the investigation.
“My personal focus number one is on the students, sexual harassment and discrimination,” said Hoffman.
The board decided to have investigators help determine what pool of complaints and issues should be addressed.
While he voted against the outside investigation, chairperson John Crist said there is an agreement that the process will take some time to unfold.
“To me, it’s more important that we get it right as some of us have said tonight, as opposed to rushing through this thing,” said Crist.
Crist added that the college has already done work to address some of the complaints. Those include hiring someone to oversee all of human resources and setting up diversity, equity and inclusion and sexual harassment training for all administrators.
“I think it can only help this college out more, and I think it’s very important that we follow rules moving along,” he said.
Last month, Jackson College President Daniel Phelan was in charge by the board to review the complaints made during meetings since August. While the report was submitted to trustees earlier in October, Crist said another report on specific complaints regarding staff and students will be reviewed next month behind closed doors.