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Carolyn Hunter, a fourth year student at Ohio University, yells at administration over the firing of delfin bautista, the past LGTB director, during the Ribbon Cutting ceremony for the new updated Ellis Hall on Friday. 

Protesters interrupt Ellis Hall ribbon ceremony to demand answers for delfin bautista’s removal

The ribbon cutting ceremony for Ellis Hall was interrupted on Friday with protesters demanding answers for the removal of delfin bautista as the LGBT Center director.

About 15 students, LGBT Center employees and Athens residents entered Ellis Hall during the ceremony, chanting to “stand up and fight back” when queer students and the LGBT Center is under attack.

Carolyn Hunter, an outreach coordinator at the LGBT Center and speaker at the protest, said she felt the university lacked in giving them answers.

“We want answers,” she said. “We’re not getting dialogue. We are staff of the center and we don’t even have answers. You have left us with nothing, but community members. You left us with students. You left us with faculty. You left us with professors that all want answers and there coming to us.” 

OU President Duane Nellis said he agreed to open the dialogue and talk to the protesters, but not during the Ellis Hall unveiling. 

The protesters were removed by the Ohio University Police Department and remained in front of Ellis Hall. Hunter said they came to protest knowing the Ellis Hall opening ceremony would be heavily mediated and would be expecting protestors. 

She said the removal of bautista was abrupt and unprofessional, occurring only a few days before before the Spring Semester began. 

“They keep telling us that their hands are tied but they also are trying to help us, which is condescending,” Hunter said. 

In the days following bautista’s removal, the center was able to meet with Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Gigi Secuban, her assistant Amanda Graham and Tyrone Carr, the interim director for the LGBT Center, to discuss moving forward. Hunter said they got a lot of answers that weren’t answers at all.

Carr has been in the LGBT Center but does not work there full time, which is a part of their problems and frustrations. Carr told them he is not going to know it all. 

“He was very honest about that, and I appreciate his efforts and his honesty.” Hunter said. “We all do actually, but we are all very devastated and we’re just trying to pick up from here.”

As much as the center appreciates Carr coming to help them, he is not a part of the queer community. Hunter said he is very profound and vocal in his allyship, but he can’t answer the difficult questions that bautista was in place to answer as someone who is queer person of color. 

“That is not to say Tyrone won’t do a good job,” Hunter said as she began to cry. “I’m sure we will be able to collaborate with him for the time being. We’re still on the fringes...this is personal because delfin is apart of our family, our queer family. It’s just really emotional for us because we’re building off of nothing at this point.

While there is a lot of anger and frustration within the center, there has been an overwhelming amount of support from people in Athens who are not a part of campus. 

Craig Jenkins, an Athens resident, said their removal was sudden and confusing and felt that bautista had “the rug pulled out from under them.”

Jenkins attended the protest on Jan. 11 that was in direct response to delfin’s removal, and it gave him a lot of assurance.

“It was very interesting to see the full scope of delfin’s impact on the campus and to see how much they have done for this university and this community,” Jenkins said. “That still gave me a lot of hope for moving forward with this movement.”



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