County Legislator Vincent R. Felder, a graduate of the College at Brockport, has asked the chancellor of the SUNY system to investigate his alma mater because of recent conflicts over diversity.
In a Feb. 18 letter to SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson, Felder stated his concern over the firing of Chief Diversity Officer Cephas Archie in January; the subsequent departure of Sandra Vazquez, diversity recruitment and retention specialist; and the federal discrimination complaint filed against the college by Vicki Elsenheimer, administrative assistant to the vice president for advancement.
He also noted the college’s attempt to investigate anonymous charges against Archie after he was fired, which College President Heidi MacPherson ordered stopped once the investigation was made public.
“The combination of these events in such a short period of time lead to a simple conclusion: Something is wrong at SUNY Brockport,” Felder wrote.
Johnson last week appointed SUNY Oswego’s chief diversity officer to work with Brockport at least through the end of the semester.
Felder graduated from Brockport in the early 2000s and has remained involved with the college since, he said. He was a member of Brockport’s Organization for Students of African Descent, and president of the student government.
Given his perspective, Felder said, he was troubled by recent events, but not surprised. In fact, he said, it fits a pattern that has been repeated in the past of making some progress on racial issues and then letting advances slip.
“The diversity issue at SUNY Brockport must be treated as the crisis it has proven to be and must be dealt with in a way that produces sustainable and verifiable results,” Felder said. He suggested reinstatement of Archie as one possible result.
Felder also offered to meet with the chancellor when she visits campus.
The college has declined to be specific about Archie’s dismissal, but Archie has said he was told he was being fired over “performance issues” that weren’t specified.
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