Editor’s note: In our recent issue, the Indy included a letter from the editor explaining our choices and decisions during production.
A 228 page report released on Nov. 15 details how former college president Bob Knight discriminated against four employees of Clark College. We have included three excerpts from this report as well as examples and explanations of what the excerpts are portraying.
In Spring, the board received complaints against a former employee for violating Clark’s non-discrimination policy which states “the college expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, perceived or actual physical or mental disability, pregnancy, genetic information, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, creed, religion, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or use of a trained guide dog or service animal.” When they considered the complaints in September, it was unclear how the policy was violated and who violated it. At the time, the college only stated that there was an issue concerning the salary of an employee, but that it had been resolved. The other three complaints were not acknowledged.
In October, the Indy submitted a public records request for the report on the investigation of the complaints. The report was held back due to three of the four complainants, and the respondent filing appeals, asking for reconsideration. The board came to the decision to acknowledge all four complaints on Nov. 2. The Indy received the report on Nov. 15, and it was discovered that the complaints were made against former college president, Bob Knight.
Diamond Consulting, the firm hired by the college to investigate these complaints, found that one of Knight’s actions included inappropriate behavior. A frequent word that he would use for females was “trouble,” saying that they were “troublemakers.”
(Witness P*), (Witness M*), and (Witness E*) felt discriminated against when Knight would refer to them as diversity hires.
For example, according to the report, the executive cabinet and the board of trustees were deciding whether or not to close the college due to the reports they received in October that Patriot Prayer, which is known as a right wing, would be on campus.
When the Board of Trustees called an executive session, the members of the Executive Cabinet discussed whether or not to close the college for safety reasons. The executive cabinet, which is made up of some administration, decided unanimously to ask Knight and the board to close the college. During this conversation, (Witness P*) stated that they (the college) needed to take a stand and that some systemically non-dominate people came to her and let her know that they felt like the college hadn’t done anything to support or help them. According to the report, Knight expressed frustration that people were saying that he wasn’t doing anything about diversity. He said, “Look, I’ve done something, I hired (Witness E*), (Witness D*), (Witness P*), and (Witness M*).
“He minimized us in front of our peers. In essence, he didn’t hire us because we were talented individuals in our field or the most qualified. He just hired us because we were women of color,” Witness M said from her statement in the report.
When (Witness P*) was hired on for her Interim role as vice president, Knight did not approve a higher salary for her as he did for white males in the past.
For example, in an email sent to Bob Knight by (Witness M*), she talks about (Witness P*) salary which was one of the biggest topics when it came to the job of (Witness P*). The email starts out by letting him know she was following up on a question he had posed about Witness P’s salary. According to the email, Witness M suggests to Knight that Witness P be paid the same as her predecessor. Which was $93,515 retroactively to the effective date of Witness P’s appointment. She references the Washington State of Community and Technical college survey which suggests that Witness P was being significantly underpaid for her interim work compared to her peers in the system.
His response was as follows, “Let’s discuss further in our next one-on-one. I am not saying no but want to discuss this in the context of (Person 16) and (Person 15) and possibly others who may have deserved more pay along with retroactive pay. I think the discussion about her pay as (*) is a separate issue. Thanks.”
Knight made a statement through a PR firm the day the report was released, stating that he disagreed with the findings. It was all he said before going on to reiterate what he had done for the college.
The witnesses did not wish to be interviewed and all questions and comments were directed to Kelly Love, Clark’s chief communications officer.