An investigation prompted by accusations of discrimination against Black and female employees at Manchester Community College found “a history of culture/climate issues with racial undertones,” according to a report released earlier this month.
The report stated that there is evidence to suggest that over the past 20 years the school “has experienced challenges related to diversity and specifically race and gender." Investigators recommended an independent racial climate survey and bringing in outside consultants to specifically address the racial climate concerns.
The investigation was started based on a complaint filed with the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities’ Office of Equal Employment Opportunities and looked at the climate of the school over the last two decades. It addressed the issue of diversity in hiring as well as allegations of harassment toward existing faculty members. The report noted that some of the instances described by witnesses were not previously reported.
In regards to hiring, investigators found that MCC has seen challenges in diversity, specifically race and gender. The report pointed to a time period in 2012 where 20 people were hired, all of them white, and described how promoting women of color to certain positions during this time without conducting formal searches “elevated the tensions” at the school.
The report also looked at allegations of harassment of Black female employees and highlighted an incident where the credentials of two recently promoted Black employees were publicly questioned through a school email system. The report called this type of questioning “unprecedented” and multiple witnesses said they felt the email communication, sent by another professor, was intended to “publicly shame” the employees named. Some witnesses felt the email was racially motivated, pointing out that when white employees were promoted there was no public discussion of their credentials. In that case, investigators recommended that the professor who sent the email be found in violation of the MCC Harassment Statement and other policies. That professor retired before the report was issued.
Dr. Jane Gates, interim president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, called the findings "unacceptable."
“CSCU thoroughly investigated complaints of cultural and climate concerns at Manchester Community College. The findings show significant racial and gender issues on campus. This is unacceptable, and it must end. The investigation contained specific recommendations to improve MCC’s climate and culture, and CSCU is committed to ensuring that those recommendations are implemented," she wrote in a statement.
Longtime MCC sociology Professor Lucy Hurston, who retired in January, brought the initial complaint to the Office of Equal Employment Opportunities. She released a statement describing “ repeated efforts to address the racism and inequities directed at Black MCC faculty and staff,” and called on school leaders to take racial concerns more seriously in the future.