A former Student Life and Development coordinator is being investigated through the University Police Department on grounds of harassment against Vice President for Student Affairs Carmen Taylor, after sending hundreds of emails over a span of time to Cal State University officials, Taylor and universities where Taylor used to work.
According to Cal State Long Beach spokeswoman Terri Carbaugh, UPD felt the investigation is warranted due to both the number of emails sent and “additional documents” that were included in the former employee, Alisia Thompson’s, last email “campaign” forwarded to campus officials.
The email forwarded contained a 31-page PDF document including the Executive Order 1096 Complaint Form, an 8-page testimonial from Thompson and a number of email and text message screenshots as evidence for alleged abuse and discrimination inflicted on her by Taylor. According to Thompson, Taylor’s behavior eventually led to her resignation as an SLD coordinator for African American and Latino student organizations and Greek chapters.
Executive Order 1096 is a “systemwide policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual misconduct, dating and domestic violence and stalking against employees and third parties and systemwide procedure for addressing such complaints by employees and third parties.”
Thompson, 27, acknowledged sending 1,600 emails, saying that she had gone through all the university channels for resolving the issue, including speaking to her supervisor, going to the office of Equity and Diversity, counseling and University Ombuds, an office of the university that provides an “independent, neutral resource for informal problem-solving.”
“I wish I could’ve gone about the situation in a different way,” Thompson said. “But everyone ignored me every other way I tried to fix the problem – or even just to get somebody to see the problem. I think they were so caught up with me being young, that they just dismissed it.”
In addition, Dean of Students Jeff Klaus has filed a formal student code of conduct violation against Thompson, who is also a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership Department at CSULB. Thompson could face expulsion from CSULB. The conduct violation notice came three days after Thompson sent her complaint to the Daily 49er.
Thompson alleged that while her job tasked her with helping African American and Latino students succeed through the university system, the needs of these same students on campus were either ignored or mishandled by Taylor during periods of heightened racial tension and distrust between students and administration.
Both Taylor and Klaus refused to comment and referred all questions to Carbaugh.
According to Thompson, she was able to send the 1,600 emails by pressing the “send again option repeatedly” on her iPhone Mail app, which allowed her to issue her complaint numerous times to her recipient list. Thompson said that she sent the emails out of both anger and desperation to be heard.
“My rationale — though perhaps flawed — was that since they wouldn’t listen when I followed their procedures, I would just annoy them until they asked me what happened,” Thompson said. “But when the Provost [Brian Jersky] contacted me, he never asked me about what happened. He just said, ‘stop sending emails.’”
Thompson said that following this meeting, she felt extremely frustrated by the lack of response she received by CSU officials and administration and forwarded an email insinuating that she would send the complaint to CSULB students. However, Thompson retained that she never sent the complaint to students and was just hoping to receive a response to her complaint from university officials. Thompson also said that she found all of the email addresses she issued this complaint to online, and did not use any email information that had been provided to her by the school prior to her resignation.
The grad student’s initial complaint was filed in September of 2016 and was “investigated and dismissed” by the Office of Equity and Diversity, according to Carbaugh. Thompson did not agree with this dismissal, as she felt that she was being discriminated against for her age — however, Executive Order 1096, Article VI, Section E defines age as a protected status for individuals over the age of 40 and Thompson is 27.
“The initial complaints were received and directed toward the Office of Equity and Ms. Thompson was able to meet with people of that office and bring an advocate of her own,” Carbaugh said. “We take any and all complaints seriously … it’s how we as a university can improve on ourselves. In this instance, the protocols were followed. The claims didn’t rise to a level that required action on our behalf.”
Thompson said she felt targeted by Taylor both personally and professionally at a time when tensions between students and administration were high. The testimonial spans the course of fall 2015 to spring 2016 and Thompson’s experience as an SLD coordinator during campus upsets such as the “knife incident.” This event occurred on Feb. 25, 2016, after a male brandished a knife to a black female student during their Sociology class.
According to the complaint, a member of one of the student organizations she oversaw was involved in the altercation and various Black Student Union affiliates approached Thompson “outraged” that CSULB administration did not alert the campus of the incident sooner by issuing a timely warning email.
Thompson said that Taylor was not receptive to her advice or requests on behalf of quelling tension between administration and black students, and as the spring semester progressed, the groups she oversaw were missing classes in order to protest, rallying outside of the SLD office and skeptical of administration and their empathy and priority in black students.
“[Taylor] received my efforts as: ‘this is just some young girl who doesn’t know any better, doesn’t know how the CSUs function … and she’s going and making a big deal out of nothing,’” Thompson said.
According to Thompson, she has a second student conduct hearing on April 6 and is facing possible expulsion due to her conduct violations. Carbaugh confirmed that in a student conduct hearing, President Conoley would be the deciding vote on whether or not to expel the student on trial.