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Editorial: OU needs to give the public a clear explanation, not just PR statements, about LGBT Center director firing

It is the duty of a public institution to hold itself to high standards of truth and transparency. And as one of the state’s largest public institutions of higher education, Ohio University owes it to itself — but also to its tuition-paying students — to be honest about how the university makes crucial decisions. 

The recent dismissal of LGBT Center Director delfin bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, is no exception to that expectation.

By only releasing statements from the university public relations team and not allowing reporters to get comment from Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Gigi Secuban (bautista’s supervisor) and other higher-ranking officials, the university is leaving the public confused, angry and desperately seeking real answers.

When news broke that bautista had been removed from their position as director of the LGBT Center, our campus deserved an immediate, complete explanation as to why that decision was made. 

We’re still waiting on that explanation. 

As a prominent figure on our campus, bautista’s removal sent shockwaves through the student body. Between the protest in and outside Cutler Hall on Jan. 11 and the outcry on social media, it was made clear that many people on our campus were deeply upset by the university’s decision. 

As reporters, our job is to tell the full story, and we try our best to always do so. That job, however, is made exceedingly more difficult without transparency and access to university officials who were involved in the decision-making process.

It’s disturbing to see that, in records of bautista’s emails to the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, they expressed fear of retaliation from the university for filing a harassment and discrimination complaint. 

We are also extremely concerned with bautista’s claim that all interview requests they received — requests that are routinely submitted by local news outlets, including The Post — have required approval from high-level university officials. 

We have commented before on our frustrations with the practice of sending interview requests through university spokespeople. It’s a practice that not only restricts our reporters’ abilities to do their jobs but makes us question the information we receive.

Our hope, both as reporters and as OU students, is that officials present the public with the answers they deserve in regards to a decision as crucial as this. 

People need more than a PR statement and a lack of comment from positions of power. They need a clear answer, and they need it now. 

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Lauren Fisher, Managing Editor Maddie Capron, Digital Managing Editor Alex McCann, Assistant Managing Editor Jessica Hill and Creative Director Abby Gordon. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

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