Davis rescinds Gibney’s reprimand

(Photo courtesy of Kristine Heykants)

(Photo courtesy of Kristine Heykants)

By Gabe Hewitt

[email protected]

“I have decided to rescind the written reprimand you received on October 31, 2013, effective today. I wish you well on your sabbatical,” stated in a letter MCTC professor Shannon Gibney received from President Phil Davis on May 23.

The reprimand, involving two white male students, accused Gibney of discriminating against them during a class discussion in Fall 2013. It sparked a campus-wide conversation and received national attention.

Gibney said that she was surprised by the letter. She had been meeting with a union lawyer who told her that the reprimand may be removed but she didn’t think it would happen. The notification came a week before a union-sponsored arbitration meeting on the matter.

“This last minute removal of the letter of reprimand, especially if it is a full expungement, after all of President Davis’ and the Chancellor Rosenstone’s public claims that I deserved the letter of reprimand and that the press and everyone else didn’t know all the facts, now rings completely hollow,” she said in a press release. “And the harm that this caused my reputation, institutional ethos, and authority in the classroom — as well as the stress it inflicted on me and my family, can never really be repaired. So, anyone who advances the ‘no harm was done here’ narrative is absolutely wrong.”

The disciplinary reprimand has been removed from Gibney’s permanent file but the accusation from the students will still be there.

“We are still investigating what remedies, if any, might exist to expunge this, as well,” Gibney said in the press release.

Gibney received the letter days before Davis announced that he had accepted positions at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) and would be stepping down as president. She sees this as an opportunity for a new face to step in with a different perspective.

Gibney will be teaching two courses this summer and will then be taking a sabbatical from MCTC this upcoming 2014-2015 academic year. She plans on spending time with her family in west Africa and teaching at the University of Liberia.

President Davis could not be reached for comment.

 

 

Read Gibney’s official press release below:

I just received a letter from MCTC and President Davis, stating the following:

“I have decided to rescind the written reprimand you received on October 31, 2013, effective today. I wish you well on your sabbatical.”

This means that as of today, exactly one week from my union-sponsored Arbitration hearing, I will no longer have any disciplinary action from the college in my permanent file with regards to the incident last fall in which the college determined that I discriminated against two white males students during a discussion of structural racism in a Mass Communications class.

However, as far as I know, the college’s determination that I violated its 1B1 policy *by discriminating against two white male students*, which is meant to protect all members of the community’s protected class status, is still in place. We are still investigating what remedies, if any, might exist to expunge this, as well.

So, the discipline no longer being in place is progress, but it is far from everything.

This last minute removal of the letter of reprimand, especially if it is a full expungement, after all of President Davis’ and the Chancellor Rosenstone’s public claims that I deserved the letter of reprimand and that the press and everyone else didn’t know all the facts, now rings completely hollow. And the harm that this caused my reputation, institutional ethos, and authority in the classroom — as well as the stress it inflicted on me and my family, can never really be repaired. So, anyone who advances the “no harm was done here” narrative is absolutely wrong.

The deeper questions of ongoing institutional racism in MCTC and throughout the MnSCU system — especially for employees and students of color — still demand real and systemic attention and redress, however my case ends or develops. And this whole experience has left me with no faith in the system’s ability to correct itself, especially since I was offered a buy-out at one point in the Grievance process if I would simply leave MCTC altogether (of course, I declined).

Expect more writing on this from me and others in the near future.

Words can truly not begin to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who stood by me, many of whom were complete strangers, through all of this. It has truly been one of most difficult and painful periods of my life. But community support has brought me to the other side. If there is one thing that I truly believe in, it is that.