Former employee alleges discrimination by Tufts admissions dean | Tech US News

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Tufts University has hired an outside law firm to investigate claims of alleged bias and discrimination against Joseph “JT” Duck, dean of admissions in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering, and other executives in the admissions office, according to emails. which he acquired Inside Higher Ed and a former employee who wished to remain anonymous.

Duck, who was hired in 2019, was the subject of numerous complaints from current and former employees — including allegations of racial discrimination, sexism and creating a “toxic” work environment — through the university’s office of equal opportunity, according to an investigation. the author The Tufts Dailythe university’s independent student newspaper.

In June, the university in Somerville, Massachusetts, hired the law firm McCarter & English to investigate complaints against Duck and other admissions office executives, according to emails it obtained Inside Higher Ed.

A former Tufts admissions office employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation with Inside Higher Edconfirmed that he filed two formal discrimination complaints against Duck and made several other informal complaints against other admissions office managers.

The former employee, who left earlier this year after more than a decade at the university, said colleagues had voiced similar complaints about alleged discrimination in the office. The employee said that under Duck’s leadership, the admissions office suffered from high turnover — 22 employees left after he arrived. Daily-and “lost a lot of talent.”

“These young black employees were asking me for advice … No one was listening,” the former employee said. “People did not want to come to work in such a toxic environment. It was heartbreaking.”

The employee, who is black, also alleged that Duck played popular white male employees, promoting some with raises over black women who had worked there longer or were more qualified. The employee also said that Duck repeatedly ignored or dismissed complaints of microaggressions and alleged discrimination by other members of the admissions office.

“These people are not stupid; they’re not going to be overtly racist or sexist, they’re going to use microaggressions to get people to leave,” the former employee said. “Microaggressions are hard to prove … but I think they were racially motivated.”

Duck said he could not comment on any details or specific allegations “out of respect for the university’s processes and procedures and important reasons to preserve the privacy of all involved.”

“I have always strived to create an environment that respects differences and embraces the values ​​of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging,” he wrote in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. “As a leader, I fully support the right of individuals to bring their thoughts and concerns to me and to seek redress through established university processes if they feel their concerns have not been heard.”

Patrick Collins, Tufts’ executive director of media relations, said the investigation itself has not yet found any wrongdoing or reached any conclusions about the allegations, but if they are found to be true, the university will “take appropriate action.”

“When allegations are made by members of the community regarding workplace matters, the university regularly reviews those allegations in accordance with applicable policies and procedures,” Collins wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed. “The existence of any such review is not evidence of a violation; is the first step in the fact-finding process.”

“Public accusations outside of due process, or conclusions reached before the facts have been discovered, are not only fundamentally unfair, but also a disservice to all involved and to the process itself,” Collins added.

Another former admissions officer, who also requested anonymity because she still works in admissions at another institution, said that while at Duck she saw patterns of favoritism and retaliation — and she didn’t want to invalidate the experiences of former colleagues who felt marginalized – she never experienced or noticed racial or gender discrimination in her two years in the office.

“I definitely agree that if you were loyal to JT, if you didn’t complain and followed his instructions to T, you were his favorite and you were rewarded for it…and sometimes he got revenge on people who spoke up,” she said. said. “Is this the same as discrimination? I do not know.”

She also said that it is not possible to define precisely all the problems mentioned in Daily article about Duck, adding that during his tenure, the admissions office has worked to encourage critical thinking about race, gender and privilege in the professional development of its employees.

“My introduction to higher education was through the lens of Tufts admissions, and they really pushed us to think about our own internal biases and privileges when we read applications,” she said. “At least Tufts made us think about these things. Not every admissions office does that.”

The former employee who complained said they were “absolutely not” confident the investigation would uncover any wrongdoing or result in any consequences for Duck. But their experience made them wary of working in higher education admissions institutions.

“It was so bad that it changed my whole perspective on higher education,” said the former employee, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Tufts. “I was bleeding brown and blue when I started there [Tufts’s official colors] … I don’t even care if my kids go to college. They’re definitely not going to Tufts.”

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