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delfin bautista in their office at Ohio University's LGBT Center (FILE)

OU LGBT Center director filed discrimination complaint before being placed on administrative leave

Before former LGBT Center Director delfin bautista was put on paid administrative leave Jan. 8, they filed a harassment and discrimination complaint against their supervisor, Gigi Secuban, vice president of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, wrote to the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) on Sept. 25 of their concerns that Gigi Secuban, vice president of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, may be discriminating against them. They expressed fears of retaliation. 

“It is with mixed emotions and much fear that I write this narrative,” bautista said in the email to ECRC. “I am writing with concerns that have been percolating for some time now and I am not sure how best to address them.”

bautista said Secuban undermined them by showing up to the office unannounced; restricting purchases, schedules and media communications and generally treating bautista “like a child” despite saying she does not want to micromanage. At the same time, bautista said Secuban expressed little interest in the LGBT Center.

“I am not sure if it is because I am latinx, trans, queer... I am not sure if it is because she perceives me as male...I am not sure if she just doesn’t like me,” bautista said in the email. “I do not feel safe coming to work and do not feel safe in my position.”

bautista did not respond to a request for comment.

In response to delfin’s complaint, OU Civil Rights Investigator G. Antonio Anaya said the situation does not meet ECRC standards for harassment or discrimination and that Secuban was “well within (her) authority” as an administrator.

bautista said that since Secuban was hired, they have been paranoid and constantly second-guessing themselves. Secuban’s three visits to the LGBT Center have been brief, bautista said, and she leaves quickly when bautista attempts to introduce her to the staff and students of the center. Her quick visits made bautista feel as if she is trying to catch them doing something wrong and intimidate them. 

bautista said in the email that many of their emails are often dismissed or responded to with “I need to think about that” or “I have not thought about that yet.” They felt as if they would be penalized if they raised concerns or continued to ask questions.

Secuban’s hiring has come with increased scrutiny of spending for the LGBT Center. bautista said Secuban informed them that the center was $30,000 over budget in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, but bautista had never been told the center was over budget.

bautista said in the email that they left the hiring process for the center’s administrative assistant after being told it was not pertinent for candidates to have a background working with LGBT people. 

“The message that I feel being sent is that Dr. Secuban will hire whom she wants and is trying to push me out,” bautista said in the email. 

bautista also described a demeaning meeting with Diversity and Inclusion staff in which Secuban told administrators they had to be at work and showered by 8 a.m. bautista had previously worked from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. under a flex time policy because of evening programming, but Secuban did not respond to an email from bautista asking for clarification.

At the end of the meeting, bautista said staff signed a statement agreeing to the new changes “under duress and fear of consequences” without time for discussion.

bautista said in their complaint that no concerns about their media relations, spending or work ethic have been raised in the past.

They said they are being treated differently from their colleagues — pay discrepancies exist between Diversity and Inclusion directors, and other directors have received pay increases.

“I am filing this because she is sending a clear message that the voices of LGBTQ students, faculty and staff do not have value and that we are second class citizens on campus whose experiences matter very little to her,” bautista said. “I question her commitment to diversity as well as professional ethics ... she treats each of the directors differently.”

In order for behavior to constitute harassment under university policy, the behaviors must be severe or pervasive enough to deny or limit the full benefit of employment or to create an objectively intimidating, hostile or abusive environment.

“If you yourself are not sure if Dr. Secuban’s behaviors are subjectively on the basis of your being a member of a protected class, it is almost impossible to determine that they objectively constituted harassment,” Anaya said.

Editor's Note: Click below to read emails between bautista and ECRC, along with bautista's full complaint against Secuban. 



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