Ya Basta! I Reported Sexual Harassment & Was Later Accused of Racial Discrimination Against the White Man I Reported
By Xicana Ph.D.
Your degrees won’t protect you neither will your silence…
“Your silence will not protect you”.
Ya Basta! I reported sexual harassment and misconduct against the administrators who failed to act & was “let go” after accusations I said “White Privilege” in the presence of the white man I reported ( a fellow classified worker) at a Southern CA community college. The allegations against me, while untrue, were also never clear and kept changing. This all led to investigations, one my sexual harassment and administrative misconduct case that soon turned against me many months later to be a racial discrimination case from the man I reported.
In the reports I received long after I wasn’t working there, these administrators who were under investigation in the original sexual harassment case claimed that they had heard me on separate occasions make “racially charged statements” when they were not in my work space, one also said in a different report she was 12 miles away at another campus and didn’t interact with me, and the now President who threatened me with insubordination also said she rarely saw me after I reported the sexual harassment. She later falsely claimed that I had made racial statements at an event (that I guess she think we all look alike because unless she forgot she actually forced the only Chicana/Latina administrator there at the time to apologize for her statements at that summit on gasp “racial microaggressions” and there is an email trail to prove that she was forced to).
Nearly two years later it still hurts me to think about it. It hurts me to say it and I want to cry. For it wasn’t just the injustice of the lies that were told after or all the damage it did (and still does) or how it caused me and my son to lose our house, forced me to move and even forced me into a new career where my degrees will never pay me as much. No, I can’t even tell you how much it hurt especially when I remember they told me I would be ok. I remember few days since then where I can tell you truly everything is ok. It isn’t. During that time that this all happened, I didn’t know what it was, but I ended up developing symptoms that together years later add up to fibromyalgia as a specialist told me last month. I still shake. I still twitch. I now get bad flare ups. I also work two jobs, knowing both of them are never enough money to afford what I lost especially with having to go to school again to keep my current job. I am in more debt than before. Mine and my sons belongings are still locked in storage I pay 200 dollars a month for since then. So if you were wondering one way how a Xicana Ph.D. ends up on welfare as I previously wrote about here (I have a Ph.D. and I’m on Welfare”), well this is what happened.
I remember that day in September 2016 when the Title IX coordinator told me I would be ok, but for some reason, I burst out crying in fear as she told me they had to put my former boss under an investigation because she failed to report what took place in a timely matter and dismissed my reporting at first. I asked her not to do that and it’s ok just handle this man and get him to stop. She told me she had to at this point and that I would be ok. I believed her, kind of. She then asked me what I wanted to be done to the man I reported that day, I said all I want is for him to stop with his obscene and vulgar language and maybe get some training. None of that ever happened. They say they counseled him, they say they told my old boss to back off, but I remember how this former boss at first overly friendly and accomodating (even hiring me at a higher pay scale and offering me furniture for my new house I was renting) used to sit and wait for me every morning, how she would often come to tell me “let’s take a walk” and take me to isolated places at the college including an empty office that my co-worker saw and she quickly ended our “meeting” after she was spotted. I remember how she stormed into stand behind me and another co-worker angry and silent and then slammed the door to the academic center we were in after my coworker told her she was helping me with a form and how this former boss stormed out of the room in a rage. I remember how she tried to isolate me and meet with me alone in some portables on campus and how I told her I was bringing a union rep, I then remember the email how she cancelled the meeting “per HR” it needed to be “rescheduled”.
I remember the investigator they brought in, how he turned off his recorder, asking me questions about political things talking about “agrarian communists”, Black Lives Matter and Immigrant Rights, I remember related things or those exact things were on my social media. I remember texting my partner after I left that room
The first meeting about the communist comment and he told me jokingly “that’s you Zapatista” referencing my trips to Chiapas as I sat shocked in my car, we just knew that day instead of looking into my case, the investigator from day one was looking into me and my background and didn’t like it.
I scrolled on my IG and saw photos from a Black Lives Matter march I went to at my university while in grad school in Seattle, Washington, May Day protests and indicators of me working for an Undocumented Student Program at a local university. He told me he used to be a high ranking law enforcement, how certain people were “animals” with no morals. I told the district, there is something about this man, he is biased, they told me no he is not the problem, you are and if you interfere, there would be consequences. I checked his social media (since he was checking mine) and the man’s support of alt-right causes and Ann Coulter and anti-immigrant hate, including Breitbart and still nothing. He was not biased they said.
(Photo-He likes Ann Coulter and celebrates people standing against what he sees as “PC”, but yeah he’s the guy to investigate sexual harassment and suddenly bring allegations that I racially discriminated against the man I reported).
The next meeting I had with the investigator, I took a union rep because, I found out prior from the admin who was supposed to help me made a phone call and told me I was about to be placed under investigation almost six months after I reported the man for his language and behavior. (The behavior of this man-vulgarities about women/LGBTQ folks and debates with graphic details with his friends on how he thought Brock Turner was NOT a rapist in our open center at the college with students presents) and now I was being accused of racial discrimination against him, the man I reported for this misbehavior.
I was never counseled on any wrongdoing to him. I was never alerted to such misconduct on my behalf, no notes in my employee record, no warnings, nothing. I was asked by a reporter acquaintance not too long ago if there was warnings or anything in my employee record and I told him no a little surprised and he said well they made it up because those things would be there in your file if you had done them. Allegations can’t just come out of nowhere, but they did and it was after the holiday break when I wrote my former boss still under investigation that I wanted the man or myself to work somewhere else because I didn’t want to be alone with him. She wrote back and assured me he’d work from her office. After that holiday break is when I came back to the sudden news. At some point I had reached out to the former chancellor for help remembering I met him before I was hired and emailed a little with him while I was there. I remember the first time I met him and how he showed me his Critical Race Theory books in his office and told me he studied it, but he didn’t respond this time. Not long after I was gone, this chancellor retired.
I remember how I entered that next meeting with a union rep present in 2017, the investigator said, “Hello Matt”. I looked up alarmed and asked the rep, “hey (his real name) is there anyone in our union named Matt?” He responded, “no, not to my knowledge”. The union rep did not know the name of my fiancee. I waited to tell him later. The investigator began his questions, asking about if I went up to the man after the 2016 election of Trump to tell the man the very next day “looks like your people won”. I told the investigator three things, no because for one I wouldn’t talk like that, two-this man wasn’t even at work in November (plus had him removed from my work location) and three this man told everyone he was voting for Bernie Sanders (a very adamant supporter). The investigator looked shocked, but mostly about the Bernie Sanders part. He then asked some more questions and then said in front of the rep “well looks like this is all a case of he said, she said…”. I was shocked and emailed admins at the district and said how can he say that when he hasn’t even interviewed people who witnessed all this yet? They didn’t care.
After that meeting ended, I told the rep my partner’s name is Matt. I later showed him the screenshots, and he told me to tell the district about the man’s bias, had me send them to him, but none of it really mattered, I learned.
(I have the records to prove as well as show the man was removed from my work space as I requested since the initial report of his harassment and I also made sure in December during holiday where there was no students that I wouldn’t be left alone near him it was during that time he went to work with my former boss in her office and supposedly left-conveniently before these allegations surfaced just as I came back in January).
I was taken off work eventually for stress by a doctor in March 2017, three months after they placed me under investigation and failed to do anything about my original complaints. I was directed to go to by this doctor by the District. He was the Director of Occupational Medicine at a Health Clinic, he told me I couldn’t go back until they handled this and how I shouldn’t be continued to report to an admin under investigation, it was all too much. I was already depressed. I finally got a referral for a therapist from insurance. I started getting calls. The district cut off my care to the doctor who took me off work. I was taken off work indefinitely, do I just go back, do I find another doctor, shouldn’t that note still stand? My former boss started calling. I went to the Board of Trustees told them generally about things happening, shortly after the rep put me in contact with one. She said she felt for me while I was speaking, but there was nothing she could do at the moment in an email dated March 10, 2017. She told me she believed in the process when all parties follow it, it works. I emailed her again after the letter came never to hear from her again either. The process doesn’t work if there is corruption.
The letter: I remember leaving the house for a few days towards the end of March and when I returned I opened my mail, it was a letter from the then acting president of the college telling me what I knew would happen that first meeting I cried the year before. I remember how since they claimed my old boss had nothing to do with this, but I keep an old phone and still have the voicemail from my former boss soon after this letter telling me I can’t go to campus, she said she heard I was coming, but essentially acting like I was a criminal and needed permission. I had a panic attack in the car hearing her voice in my car in Downtown Riverside not far from the headquarters of this District. I never got my belongings back. My coworker went to check, the person tagged to fill my position, a former employee I supervised and the wife of a Professor at the school also checked, but someone had taken everything out they told me and I haven’t seen my belongings from that office since and we all figured my former boss threw them away.
I never wanted to go to campus again, but I had to. I just never went back to that side of campus. It was torture to go there a few times a week driving a hour and a half after losing the house we rented just so my son could finish preschool on that campus just across the parking lot at the Moreno Valley College Child Development Center. I would hear from old co-workers and other staff members bad things about what some of these people were doing, how even though she wasn’t right, one got a promotion, another left to a community college for a better job after she was passed over for a promotion (even though there were two cases showing misconduct before I started working there) and my former boss I imagine still is there.
I reported sexual harassment and I haven’t been the same since because this is what the institution will do to you. They will call you a liar, they will push you to the point of despair thinking you will give up, counting on complicity and silence. I never got that counseling appointment either because my insurance was gone along with everything else and I have yet to recover fully to this day.
The Riverside Community College District, like many Higher Ed institutions claim to be promoting a Culture of Care, but they don’t. I remember how at the Board of Trustee meeting that Spring 2017, I brought it up, but I know they do not stand for it. Not at all. I remember how I had to go back to the BOT in June 2017 because they said I resigned in their board book and that made life more difficult. It took me months to finally get unemployment after an appeal due to what they put on paper (that’s one way how a Xicana Ph.D. ends up on welfare).
I still remember that day in September 2016 that I told the Title IX officer and she said I would be ok. I believed her. I believed I would be ok, but it’s not. I was not ok. I am still not ok. Today I saw a post from the now former Latina administrator claiming to be a champion of social justice and it got to me, she saw what I went through, contacted me after she left that institution or was forced out, but also after she turned her back on me as did many of these people who claimed to be my friend in the times right before #metoo exploded, I had many people move to silence me, including some professors and other higher education professionals who claim to be feminists/activists. They now are people I’ve seen in the last couple years contradict themselves and frankly are hypocrites. As a result of these experiences, I have since been more guarded and less trusting of anyone who does too much talking and not enough action.
(Message from Latina administrator in 2018 on why she stopped talking to me and on what the now President told her after she said she stood up for me “oh but YOU owe me one by giving you this job. The Irene case I can share details in a few years”-What was the President going to tell her? I guess we will never know).
This is not ok and I’m tired of all of it. The stress has made me sicker since then and today on Valentines Day, I am done with it. It can’t stay here with me anymore because yes I love myself that much and my son deserves his mother happy again, my current students deserve me at my best, and not the best I can give them right now, but the very best, my school work needs attention and time, my partner sees the resentment making me more ill and wants me happy again too. So today I am done. I love myself that much. I deserve to be happy and healthy again and if this has happened to you, know you deserve all this and more too. Don’t let these higher education institutions kill us because that’s what they do.
If you stand with me truly then let them know what they did was not ok. My dream was always to return to my community and it was a dream (short-lived) to go back to the same community college district where my own higher education began, the Riverside Community College District, But now I know you can never truly go back. It was a dream to serve after doing a Ph.D. in Education focused on Latinx Community College students. I had to become ok with letting that dream go now because there are other dreams to be realized and I know I did not deserve what they did.
Board of Trustees
Phone: (951) 222-8801
Next board meeting (if you want to pay them a visit during comments to the public) let me know.
February 19, 2019 – 6 pm
District Offices Board Room
3801 Market Street
Riverside, CA 92501
In solidarity always,
Dr. Irene Sanchez