We Love You … But Don’t Call or Write or Bother us.

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Dear UIUC President Killeen and UIUC Chancellor Wilson:

I’ve had enough of the refusal of UIUC to take *immediate* action on the discrimination scandal at UIUC’s Facilities & Services (F&S).  As you both know full well, this scandal involves *at least* 7 and probably 30 black employees at F&S who over the last number of years have been discriminated against, in the case of one former employee by assignment to a 95 degree basement with dangling asbestos, black mold and vermin.  And in the case of last Thursday, the black employee who had a noose thrown on his desk by his white co-worker.

UIUC has been “investigating” this scandal for at least the last 18 months; it was investigating while Phyllis Wise was still Chancellor, and it looks as if it will still be investigating when the new Chancellor takes office, whenever that might be.

Both of you and many other top UIUC administrators know perfectly well what’s going on; some of the black individuals victimized met with Wise’s senior staff, and senior administrators –including *both* of you — have been told what’s going on, over and over and over and over again.

***

I realize that both you, President Killeen, and you, Chancellor Wilson, have been trying to do something about this hideous situation, but *it isn’t enough.*  With great power comes great responsibility, and you both have great power and a responsibility to exercise that power to put a stop to vicious discrimination that’s not just occurred in the past, but that is occurring now, on apparently a daily basis at F&S.

I have no illusions that being President or Chancellor is an easy job, especially given the nonexistence of a state budget.  But no amount of understanding for the difficulty of your positions allows me to cognize how you could let the F&S pustule continue unpunctured.

A black employee in a basement with dangling asbestos, and denial by UIUC for months, coupled with an insulting offer from UIUC legal to make it go away?  Daily stories of abuses at F&S, 7 EEOC complaints, how many ODEA complaints?  You both knew, I realize it isn’t trivial to put a stop to it but … what are you waiting for?  A noose last week isn’t enough?  Do you need a lynching before you do something?

I have the misfortune of being too intimately involved in this, I hear daily reports of the toxicity of the F&S work environment; and, perhaps more to the point I hear (over and over) the humiliation and pain and anger of the long-term black employees of UIUC that *nothing of any substance is being done by the two of you to stop this.*

I think both of you care; I think both of you mean well; I think both of you are trying.  But I don’t think you’re doing what you were appointed to do: be leaders.  Take command, step up to the plate.

Put a stop to this, *now*.  Then we can convene a public discussion on why the UIUC community has been willing to tolerate this, why you two felt unable to take immediate action.  How this happened, and how to make sure it never happens again.

But I’ve had it with talk.  I’ve had it with “internal investigations.”  I’ve had it with surveys internal to F&S to find out if there’s a problem.

There’s a problem.  If you didn’t know that when you had a 30 year employee in a 95 degree basement, presumably you learned it last week when the noose incident struck.

Please, President Killeen, please, Chancellor Wilson.  With great power comes great responsibility.  Step up to the plate.  Now.

Andrew Scheinman

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