You're fired? Campus official who flaunted 'F**K TRUMP' sign out of a job
During the meeting, citizens and taxpayers of the community expressed great division over Zeballos and his actions.
After the meeting, Zeballos’ position is reportedly being discontinued.
Campus Reform recorded a controversial board of trustees meeting at Kellogg Community College where Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Jorge Zaballos apologized for protesting with a sign saying, “F**K TRUMP…”.
Following controversy over a Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer’s decision to post a photograph of himself with a profane political sign, one Michigan community college has opted to eliminate the position completely.
Citizens of Battle Creek, Michigan gathered to share their thoughts regarding the actions of Kellogg Community College’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Jorge Zeballos. Campus Reform previously reported that during the December Trump rally at the Kellogg Arena, Zeballos protested while holding a sign reading, “FUCK TRUMP, FUCK McConnell, FUCK GRAHAM."
Some of the local taxpayers condemned Zeballos’ actions as shameful and immature, while others supported him, saying that his profane protest was insignificant. One attendee told Campus Reform that Zeballos’ detractors were showing “white privilege” by their criticism of him.
As the meeting progressed, Chairman Steve Claywell announced, “We have a staff member who would like to address the board.” With that, Zeballos stepped up to the lectern to apologize for “the impact that my actions have had.”
“The first thing I want to say is that the last couple of weeks have been really challenging for the institution and for me personally," Zeballos said. "This set of events ha[s] given me the opportunity to go into some deep reflection about my actions and the impact on the institution, so I want to offer this tonight: a sincere apology to the Board, my colleagues, Dr. Bennings [KCC president], to students, to the community for the impact that my actions have had and the reactions that they have generated. [I] commit to moving forward, being much more mindful of any actions that I take and the impact that they might have on this institution. And I also firmly commit to taking any steps necessary to repair any trust that has been broken. Thank you.”
Immediately after Zeballos’ address to the board, the members of the community were each granted up to three minutes of time to publicly comment in response. KCC student Kimberly Towski argued in favor of Zeballossayingthat under the First Amendment he has a right to free speech.
Hal Longman, taking a different approach, argued that Zeballos’ actions were childish. Longman recalled, “When [his] daughter was about four years old,” and he had to parent a situation involving profanity. Longman explained that, while her “language [was] not acceptable,” she was still a child and the situation could, therefore, be treated with less seriousness.
“But somebody who’s in the upper echelon of education using that kind of...language just exposes the ignorance that they have and...I don’t want them involved in the education of my children. I wouldn’t have wanted my four-year-old daughter to educate people and I don’t want anybody else who speaks like that, who has signs like that, who acts like that, who performs that way in public having anything to do with the education of children.”
“Mr. Zaballos chose to attend a protest--that is certainly his right--and take a picture of himself with a very foul poster,” said community member Joni Jones, who called Zeballos’ action “below the dignity of the office” of Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer and that Zeballos’ protesting was done during work hours.
Jones further spoke about Zeballos' decision to post the picture with obscene language.
“Is this the type of language that we taxpayers or you board members expect from a public higher education administrator?” she asked. “Is there not a code of conduct fo KCC employees?”
“I am concerned for Mr. Zeballos’ credibility in his role as an equity and inclusion officer,” communications professor Sarah Stout said.
One attendee told Campus Reform, “I feel the people that found a way to attack and say, ‘Hey, we want to get one of you Brown people out of a position of power,’ it’s just White privilege. It’s just that White entitlement piece straight across the board.”
The attendee also said that the attacks on Zaballos were “partially” motivated by racism, rather than by concern for the school.
Campus Reform asked Steve John Kowski, who claims to have taught at KCC for more than a decade, whether political dissidents feel welcome on campus. Kowski lamented the lack of free and open dialogue, saying, “the campus is way too quiet.”
He continued, “This is what we do in college: we expose; we analyze; we investigate; we think about; we talk about it, and it can get kind of noisy.”
“It wasn’t that quiet when I was a student here in ‘72," he said.
WBCK-AM reported that KCC President Adrien Bennings sent a letter to employees saying that Zeballos’ role is being eliminated and that “the institution's equity and inclusion initiatives [will now] be driven directly from the President's Office under my leadership instead of through the College's Office of Equity and Inclusion,” adding, “this change also requires fiscal stewardship, which includes the elimination of the position of Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer within the current fiscal year.”
KCC spokesman Eric Greene denied to the Battle Creek Enquirer that the elimination of the position had anything to do with the profane sign.
"I don't think it would be fair to say that had anything to do with this. It had to do with the college being fiscal stewards of its resources, within any position at the college, there needs to be a clear demonstrated need," Greene said.
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