One semester. Three terminations.
Near the end of the fall semester, Guilford College saw major leadership changes. Director of Student Judicial Affairs Sandra Bowles, Assistant Dean of Students Jen Agor and Director of Public Safety Ron Stowe were all let go from their positions in the span of a few short months.
There has been little information on the departures of Agor and Bowles from their respective departments.
Although resident advisors and some faculty and staff have been told about Agor and Bowles’ departures, the College has not sent an email informing students or other members of the community or explaining why they left.
“I can’t comment on the nature of personnel matters but can say that we will be reviewing our staff positions to make sure we are providing the best student experience possible at Guilford,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Todd Clark in an interview with The Guilfordian.
The lack of official information has encouraged community members to speculate and rumors to spread.
“Ineffective reporting on sexual assault or discouraging coming forward, solely pertaining to Sandy,” said senior Layla Rafaoui in regards to the reasons she had heard they left.
Sara Minsky ‘15 has heard a similar explanation.
“I’ve heard that they were fired because they weren’t doing their jobs properly, and that was finally revealed at a forum that was held by SAASA about sexual assault and Campus Life’s response,” said Minsky.
However, other rumors have spread as well. A staff member who wishes to remain anonymous reported that they heard that some students went to the administration and demanded that Agor and Bowles, among other employees, be let go.
Regardless of the reason, the lack of information has created frustration throughout the community.
“Guilford is more talk than action when it comes to transparency,” said Rafaoui. “They like to avoid conflict, which isn’t Quaker. Conflict isn’t the same as violence. Conflict demands to be acknowledged. We deserve answers.”
Samir Rohlin Hazboun ‘14 sees another set of issues in this situation.
“I find myself asking the same few questions when incidents like this happen,” said Hazboun. “Whose well-being do we prioritize in these situations? I ask this because I received several calls from folks concerned about the fates of Sandy and Jen. I never receive phone calls about the well-being of marginalized students. No one ever calls me concerned about a student who was subjected to an act of racism or assaulted on campus and dropped out of Guilford.”
Agor served at Guilford since 2008 as Associate Dean of Students, while Bowles has been employed at Guilford since 2007.
“I can certainly say that the college is grateful to both of them for their years of service to this community and that we wish them well,” said President Jane Fernandes.
Stowe was removed from his position before Agor and Bowles due to negative attention concerning a Facebook post of a picture made on Feb. 4, 2015.
“Some people just need a hug … around the neck … with a rope,” read the picture in the post.
Though Stowe posted a picture of the quote almost a year ago, Guilford did not respond until November. They later informed students and faculty of the change in public safety leadership in early December via email.
“I can think of so many people this applies to at Guilford,” said Karen Watkins Swindells in a Facebook comment on the photo.
The nature of the post, as well as its possible racist connotation, including similarities with lynching, has caused major concern and even outrage among the Guilford community.
“The head of Guilford College P-Safe posts jokes about hanging/lynching on his social media? As an alumnae, I’m horrified & sickened,” said one Twitter user in response to the incident.
Before Guilford, Stowe worked as a captain with the High Point Police Department for 27 years. He was hired by Guilford in 2008.
Clark is optimistic about finding a new director of Public Safety.
“Our attention is squarely focused on securing new leadership in Public Safety and developing processes campus-wide to reinforce the Guilford community’s confidence in that department,” said Clark in an email to the Guilford community in early December.