From: Le Toudjida Allara, MPA
Gallaudet Alumni UG’11 & G’14
To: Gallaudet University Board of Trustees 800 Florida Avenue NE,
Washington, DC 20002
Subject: My Concerned Letter to the Gallaudet BOT Related to President Bobbi’s Recent Appointment of Mr. Benedict to be our Alma Mater’s Historic Vice President of Student Affairs & Community Engagement
Dear Honorable Members of the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees,
When I just learned that President Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano has made a surprise announcement with her decision to appoint of Mr. Albert Dwight Benedict to be Gallaudet University’s first and history Vice President of Student Affairs and Community Engagement who will start effectively on the Sunday, October 1st, 2017, I have been so concerned and disappointed to receive this news due to several essential reasons.
As a former English Language Institute (ELI) Student and ELI Student Organization (ELISO) Officer (Vice President, President & SBG Student Congress Senator) from February 2004 to December 2005 and Spring 2008, I had a long fight to:
- Eliminate the SBG’s intention to restrict ELI Students participating in various student activities and their eligibility to vote any president candidates during SBG Election Weeks provided by Campus Activities because SBG and Student Affairs could not justify with my challenge on why we should not participate in those activities even though we International Students did paid the school’s unit fee.
- Eliminate SBG’s policy to prevent ELI Students participating in sports activities and represent Bison during Gallaudet/NTID Rockfest and Brickfest weekends
- Open door to numerous ELI students to enjoy SBG Spirit Weeks, recreational activities provided by Gallaudet Intramural staff and so forth before I transferred to Rochester Institute of Technology for my studies in Microelectronic Engineering in March 2016.When I returned to Gallaudet University in Spring 2008, I discovered that SBG continued to limit ELI Students who were eligible to participate in its activities (including the 2008 SBG Election Week) and I took a prompt action to challenge SBG officials on the repeat election issues before they changed their plan to allow eligible ELI students to participate in the election in the very last minute.
- When I was recruited to work for Campus Activities as Front Desk and Staff Assistant during Aug 2008-Aug 2009, I discovered that Campus Activities had a list of eligible students from Student Affairs to vote for any candidates in 2009, but there was no eligible student from ELI on that list. I assisted the Campus Activities to ensure that ELI students who did pay their unit fee to Gallaudet University were included on the list and eligible to vote for candidates during the election weekAs a former 2010 SBG Presidential Candidate and finalist, I received numerous complaints against the SBG Election Week Committee, the election was rigged with a number of duplicated paper votes, oppressed and prevented UG and Graduate students to willingly assist ELI students who asked more info about candidates’ background and identification. After I was defeated by my SBG opponent, I decided to write a letter to Gallaudet Administrators by demanding them to change the SBG election system from paper to electronic and demanding them to deal with the oppressive climate against international and diverse students who were victimized during the 2010 Election Week. That was where the Gallaudet Administrators were involved and took a serious action on this election situation.
Monday, October 2nd, 2017
Then, later, the SBG president who won the election against me was in several government classes with me, he was asked to leave professors of the classes due to his tremendous absence and his disrespect of classes’ syllabus policy. However, he was granted to stay in classes and passed with a good grade despite of his continuing absences. Suddenly, the 2010-2011 academic year, he coercively asked me to serve the SBG Election Week Reform Committee (EWRC) to be part of the SBG and 2011 SBG Election Week Committee as a member-at large. I said no but when I was called for a meeting with the Campus Activities Staff, SBG advisor and the SBG election week committee, I agreed to take my voluntarily service for the sake of the diversity community at Gallaudet and the improvement of the election’s effectiveness. Then, the 2011 SBG Election Weeks was so successful and effective with the new and historic election system.
As the longest student-member ODES/Keeping the Promise (Program), we including students of colors (SOC) had over hundred discussions on lack of support from Student Affairs toward SOC victims in various issues on campus and lack of reasonable/fair punishment toward SOCs who admittedly violated Gallaudet University Student Conduct, and frequently shared concerns on diversity, institutionally systematic and unwelcomed environment, and many more. ODES/KTP has been a so important educational program at Gallaudet that have saved numerous SOCs who were victimized, innocent and guilt. Without ODES’s assistance and resolution, Student Affairs would have targeted and put most of those SOCs on Persona Non-Grata (PNG).
During the Business Bowl in Spring 2011, Mr. Benedict came next to me where I stood in the back of audience and watched the business competition game participated by qualified students. When he then asked me in person about my job application for the Coordinator of Residence Education (CRE) position and told me that the Director of Residence Life met him and was concerned with my application. He told me that he would work with her concerning my application situation. In fact, I personally considered this very unprofessionally and unethically because my application should be kept confidential and handled between him and the Human Resource Office. Otherwise, he made me to increasingly suspend on why I have not trusted him on his hiring decision on any candidate who have contributed to Gallaudet working for the department of Student Affairs under his leadership.
On the hand, with the evidence of my playing experience as a student-athlete for three seasons (2005, 2008-2010) and of my contributive employment record (Jan 2010 – May 2013) for Gallaudet University Men’s Soccer Program, I was victimized of Athletic Director’s malicious intention on my employment record and prevention of my job promotion. Why? Prior to hiring, my supervisor (Head Coach Luis Gendive who was part-time and depended heavily on my assistance for the soccer program), already made it clear to Athletic Director that I worked 40 hours a week as his assistant coach with various responsibilities during both Fall and Spring semesters for three years even though I got a limit of stipend (up to $5,000) per years without signing nor seeing a descriptive contract.
When I was informed that my application for the opening position of Women’s and Men’s Soccer Head Coach/Program Coordinator were not considered in Summer 2014, I asked the EEO Director to investigate on why I was screened out even though I had a record of services that met the positions’ job description so perfectly. Unfortunately, the EEO Director replied me back with her email below:
Thank you for your email. I have had an opportunity to review your inquiry.
My preliminary investigation found that information on your application that was not accurate. I was informed that you did not serve as assistant coach in Gallaudet’s Athletic Department but as a graduate assistant and not in a coaching capacity. The minimum requirements for the position are several years of actual coaching experience. I am happy to meet with you to discuss this further.
This was not only unacceptable and very offensive for me but also destroyed my record of service for the Athletics Department. Then, this put me to collect all my record of services at the department and fill a EEOC complaint against Athletic Director for his malicious intention that has ruined my career in soccer coaching at Gallaudet University. From there, I found out about two hiring letters, written by the Athletic Director and formally signed by Albert Dwight Benedict, I got from Gallaudet Payroll concerning my salary record, the letter showed that I was supposed to work from September 1st to October 31st (just up to two month and nothing more) for the specific stipend per season.
That was when I got that the Athletic Director lied to me by saying that I had to work for the soccer program during Fall and Spring semesters both with paid (20 hours per week till the stipend was out) and volunteering (other 20 hour per week without paid and then later “full-time” without paid when the stipend was out). As you may know, working for Gallaudet without getting paid is considered as a wage thief, and it is violated the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) of the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Fortunately for Gallaudet, I was told to drop my case against Gallaudet even though I got a right to sue letter from EEOC against Gallaudet University and an EEOC agent highly suggested to go for a lawyer after her agency reviewed my case again.
My point here is that I have served Gallaudet under the unit of Student Affairs headed by Mr. Albert Dwight Benedict for more than 10 years as (1) various officer positions of student organizations for at least 7 years; (2) tutor, Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader and Math Coach at Tutorial & Instructional Program (TIP) for 8 years, (3) Front Desk, Staff Assistant and (New Student Orientation) Week Bison Leader at Campus Activities for 1 year; (4) Student Conduct Board member at Office of Student Conduct for 2 years, and finally (5) men’s soccer program assistant coach at Athletic Department, I and many members of the Gallaudet Community have never trusted in Mr. Benedict’s leadership at Gallaudet because he has done with numerous inappropriate actions that haven’t protected me, SOC and other victims; inappropriate approaches with us, and inappropriately managerial decisions within the Office of Student Affairs. Also, he has avoided his greater accountability for his leadership failure and produced misleadership within the department and at our beloved Alma Mater.
Therefore, I as a Gallaudet POC and International Alumni do express my greater concern regarding of the 11th and historic female President’s decision to appoint and promote Mr. Benedict to be Gallaudet’s new and first-ever Vice President of Student Affairs and Community Engagement despite of his long record of misleadership and without conducting the national search.
By respecting of Gallaudet Mission and Vision Statements, I hope you honorable members of the Board of Trustees will consider this so soberly and work with President Bobbi, the Human Resource Office and external consultant(s) to terminate Mr. Benedict’s high-level appointment/promotion and readvertise the valuable job position by conducting a national search if you really care about your promise to see Gallaudet in the process of transformation for the greater good of our community, for the better protection of all students and staff of Student Affairs, and finally for the better community engagement.
I hope you will get a correct candidate with an excellent leadership record and excellent outcomes of higher education’s effectiveness & efficiency and excellent achievement of his outstanding student life program. Plus, s/he will produce all students and staff toward the greatness in academic, the greatness in professional Development and the greatness in school accountability. Mr. Benedict is definitively not the answer!
Le Toudjida Allara, MPA Gallaudet Alumni UG’11 & G’14
Cc: Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano, President of Gallaudet University
Carol Erting, Provost/Chief Academic Officer
Samuel Sonnenstrahl, Gallaudet Office of Alumni Relations Executive Director
Donalda Kay Ammons, President of Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA)
Elavie Ndura, Chief Diversity Officer (CDO)
Edgar Palmer, Office of Diversity & Equity for Students (ODES) Executive Director
Olubenga Aina, Diversity and Equity Programs Director