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delfin bautista sits in the Ohio University's LGBT center. (FILE)

Former LGBT Center director disputes audit findings

Former Ohio University LGBT Center Director delfin bautista said information included in an internal audit completed before their removal is incorrect.

An internal audit found that bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, spent $6,300 in violation of university policy, purchasing unnecessary meals for staff and making personal purchases. bautista was removed from their position Jan. 10.

bautista said they were not notified of the audit results and only received a copy of the report when The Post published it, which they said was “troubling.” They also said Cutler Business Services had never raised concerns about the spending and the audit came as a surprise.

bautista provided a series of emails to The Post in which they clarified certain expenses to Chief Finance and Administrative Officer Tina Payne. Payne had emailed bautista to obtain additional documentation of certain expenses and to inform them reimbursement was due to the university.

“Like all people, I own the fact that I made mistakes with my p-card—mistakes that I learned from and by no means a reflection that I was abusing my authority or use of the card,” bautista wrote in the email to Payne.

Many of the expenses the audit found to violate university policy were meals bautista purchased for staff and students. The audit found that 20 “self-care” meals and meeting meals did not serve a business purpose.

bautista said those meals were within the mission of the center “in terms of developing and empowering the whole person” by helping LGBT students feel comfortable in spaces other than the office of the LGBT Center. During the meals, bautista and staff planned events and recruitment strategies or held discussions on topics such as coming out.

“I admit perhaps I went a little overboard with feeding folks; as a Latinx person it is a cultural practice for food and communal support / solidarity to be combined,” bautista said in the email to Payne. “To this end, I felt that I was not abusing my authority or role as director as I was providing needed support to a marginalized population at Ohio University.”

The audit also found that several “thank-you” meals violated university policy. bautista said they rely on student staff and volunteers to help with programs and events and that the meals both thanked the volunteers, who received no other compensation, for their time and facilitated discussions.

“Even when the meal followed cleaning the center, we discussed how to rearrange furniture and ways to more effectively use the space of the center,” bautista wrote in the email to Payne. “Despite the informality of a meal, there was always an agenda and purpose to the meal.”

bautista also disagreed with audit findings that they made personal purchases. The T-shirts bautista purchased were worn by themself or staff during events, they said. Other items deemed personal purchases, such as a My Little Pony coin bank and two rainbow tiaras, remain in the center, bautista said.

The audit found that other items bautista bought for the center could be evidence of wasteful spending. bautista said the items were used for programming.

bautista also defended the presence of their husband at some of the meals they charged to their university credit card. The university requires prior authorization before university credit card owners can charge spouse’s expenses. bautista said they were unaware of this and that their husband was present at the meals to serve as a role model to LGBT students.

The audit noted that the LGBT Center went over budget in 2014, 2016 and 2018. bautista said the fiscal year 2014 deficit occurred because the center was charged twice for something by mistake. The fiscal year 2016 deficit occurred because of a vehicle accident the staff was involved in while returning from a conference.

The center was $13,403 over budget for fiscal year 2018, according to the audit memo. bautista said funding transfers for a conference and new furniture were supposed to cover the deficit but that those transfers never happened.

In the audit memo, Chief Audit Executive Jeffrey Davis wrote that bautista spent $2,240 with their card after Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Shari Clarke specifically told Diversity and Inclusion offices not to spend any more money on food or entertainment. bautista said in an email that the charges were due to events Clarke had approved before she sent the email.

bautista also said it was unprofessional for the memo to bring up their personal financial situation.

“I wanted to raise that the use my own personal financial struggles and situation as a way of stating that I would misuse my p-card for personal purchases is both insulting and undermining,” bautista wrote in the email. “Despite my personal financial situation of being a single income home and family, I would never misuse university funds for personal benefit. I believe that the insinuation reflected in the report lacks professionalism.”

bautista asked to meet Payne to go over the expenses in person multiple times, but they said that request was not acknowledged. The audit memo said bautista may have to repay up to $6,380, but bautista said Monday the university has not yet given them a specific number.

Before the audit, Cutler Business Services approved all of bautista’s transactions. Chief Audit Executive Jeffrey Davis said in the audit memo that Cutler Business Services was not in the best place to gauge the validity of bautista’s transactions. bautista said it did not make sense that their already-approved transactions have now come under scrutiny.

“I appreciate the university’s efforts to ensure appropriate use and allocation of resources,” bautista said in an email to Payne. “At the same time, it is distressing that I was never given the opportunity to do better as questions or concerns were not raised during my tenure as director.”


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