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Ashley Simons-‐Rudolph, Women’s Center Director Juliette Grimmett, Women’s Center Assistant Director Chancellor Randy Woodson Provost Warwick Arden Joanne Woodard, Vice Provost Dan O’Brien, Human Resources Employee Relations Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Date: Subject: Letter of Resignation I resign from my position as Assistant Director of the North Carolina State University Women’s Center, effective 3:30pm, Tuesday May 29, 2012. I have loved my job as Assistant Director of the Women’s Center overseeing Interpersonal Violence Services (IPV, which includes sexual and relationship violence and stalking). In many ways it has been my dream job. My accomplishments at NC State University reflect my love and commitment to the work here. In my 5 years, with the support of students, colleagues, and community members, I have created a nationally recognized Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education, Advocacy, and Training program and was awarded close to $315,000 in Department of Justice federal grants for IPV support and prevention. I have received several awards that have recognized my work here at NC State and my contribution to the field that include: the Student Affairs Outstanding Contribution to the Profession Award (2008); the Student Affairs Student’s First Award (2009); the Anne Fishburne Award (2009) from the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) to honor my “invaluable assistance to support sexual assault services in North Carolina through the legislative process.” As the chair of the legislative committee of NCCASA, I directed the legislative advocacy and wrote an editorial for the News and Observer that aided in North Carolina no longer charging survivors for their sexual assault forensic evidence collection exam (i.e., rape kit); and the First Year Student Advocate Award from First Year College (2010). In addition, I created The Movement, a student organization that requires a 3-‐credit course for membership, to provide IPV prevention workshops on campus and in the community. Furthermore, the most significant source of validation for my work here has come from students. On at least a monthly basis, I have received cards, emails, or small gifts from students, usually survivors with whom I have worked, thanking me for how I have helped them. Several months ago, a student brought me flowers, a card, and a donation receipt to InterAct, a sexual assault and domestic violence crisis
center in Raleigh. The parents had made a donation to them in my name because of the support I provided. To advocate for justice and peace and to work to end the mistreatment and abuse of others has been a central part of my life’s work for over 16 years. My last 9 months, however, have been spent advocating for my co-‐workers and myself against the mistreatment and bullying we have experienced by Women’s Center Director, Ashley Simons-‐Rudolph. Under Ashley’s leadership, every day is unpredictable. Her behavior towards some of us has been disrespectful, manipulative, dishonest, and unprofessional. In November 2011, after unsuccessfully and consistently trying to address issues with Ashley related to the mistreatment, I began to share my concerns with Human Resources with the hopes of finding a resolution. As a result of my meetings with HR and those of other Women’s Center staff, HR notified Ashley’s supervisor Joanne Woodard. Joanne agreed to meet with Women’s Center staff that were willing to speak with her. Four of us scheduled separate individual meetings with Joanne and felt hopeful that she would support us and take steps to end the bullying environment in the Women’s Center. Just the opposite occurred, unfortunately, when in retaliation, Ashley immediately fired Caitlin Post, the Survivor Advocate and recent NC State University graduate and former President of The Movement. Ashley also notified Abigail Conley, Graduate Assistant for Interpersonal Violence Services and Counselor Education doctoral candidate, that it was time for her to transition out when she would not agree to “move on” (i.e., accept Ashley’s leadership style and end all complaints). Abigail left the following week. We were shocked that the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity & Diversity not only approved these terminations, but also apparently did not believe or support us. The four of us worked in the Women’s Center a combined 11 years with only positive feedback from supervisors about IPV services, including Ashley (director for 9 months), who initially acknowledged the excellent quality of interpersonal violence services provided by the Women’s Center at NC State. Ashley’s support of IPV Services, however, diminished when I advocated for another Women’s Center staff member that was being treated unfairly, and also when I started to set personal and professional boundaries with her (e.g., not calling me with non-‐emergencies after work hours or on my day off, .80 FTE). While advocating for myself and other staff, I have also been advocating for interpersonal violence services, as Ashley regularly threatens changes to programs that are not in the best interests of our students. The most noteworthy example of undermining and destabilizing these services occurred at the beginning of April, when Ashley and Joanne notified me through email (while I was on maternity leave and without any explanation, although I requested one) that I was no longer allowed to reapply for the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus Program that was due on the last week of May. Over half of the grant had already been written when I was notified, as it is a multistep, long-‐term 2
process that requires collaborative partnerships. Because the currently funded position through this grant was absorbed through student fees, this $300,00 grant would have given our campus a new staff member, as well as resources and training. It would have also financially supported community partners such as Interact’s Solace Center – Wake County’s clinic that provides forensic rape examinations to collect evidence used to prosecute sex offenders. The DOJ-‐OVW grant is the most competitive and prestigious grant of its kind. It provides access to best practices and to the expert trainers in the country. Currently, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), Elizabeth City and NC State University are the only grantees in the state. We are in excellent standing with this grant, and were very likely to be refunded for the next three years. NCCU, Duke, and UNC-‐CH all submitted their proposals for the next funding cycle that begins on October 1, 2012. The funding for NC State University ends on September 30, 2012. We were the only large campus in the triangle not to reapply or apply for this funding. I was completely shocked to not be allowed to reapply for this grant, when it has supported innovative and effective initiatives, programs, services for survivors, and collaborative partnerships that provides unique and needed services to the NC State campus community. Again, I have loved my job. After 9 months of following all logical steps expected of a professional seeking to resolve issues in the workplace, it is upsetting and unsettling for me to leave my position knowing what it means for the outstanding program we have created and for the survivors and larger NC State University community it serves. At the same time, with great personal cost to my family, and myself we have made the decision not to be bullied, treated with disrespect, or devalued by NC State University leaders who are not held accountable. My partner, an associate professor with 8 years at NC State, is equally dismayed and troubled by what I (we) have experienced with this ordeal. While we once believed that NC State would be our professional home for some time, recent events at the Women’s Center and the paltry response of NC State University leadership has changed everything. The Movement peers, survivors, supportive co-‐workers, and amazing student volunteers have been the only reason I have stayed this long. I honor my time with the many amazing campus partners who have taught me so much and have made our campus a better place for survivors of sexual and relationship violence. Our students are fortunate to have them.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?