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HSU cancelling contract for University Center

Disagreements between the UC Board and HSU administration reaches a new point of contention
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Disagreements between the UC Board and HSU administration reaches a new point of contention

Humboldt State University served a notice of termination to their contract with the University Center group, citing a series of breaches between the two organizations.

In the campus wide email, President Tom Jackson states that the UC, which provides student facing services like the dining services and the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, has 90 days to correct the six breaches. With the notice sent on Sept. 24, the UC has until Dec. 24 to make the corrections.

President Jackson stated in the email that the decision came after discussions with CSU Chancellor Timothy White, the university plans to take over some responsibilities “…ensuring students still have employment opportunities and that services supporting students are continued…” while the board attempts to make corrections.

“The UC professional staff and student employees who work hard for our campus, community, and students each day are outstanding, and resolution of issues at the executive and fiduciary level should not disrupt them as they continue to serve and support HSU students,” Jackson said in the email.

No word was given on what would happen to services run by the UC if the termination were to be finalized.

Members of the UC Board were not told ahead of time of the termination and learned of the notice the same time the campus and media were told. 

In a statement made by UC Faculty Representatives Steve Martin, Ph.D, Mark Rizzardi, Ph.D, and Armeda Reitzel, Ph.D, the board expressed their disapproval with the move.

“Unfortunately, we find ourselves in an environment where authority seems to outweigh collaboration,” the statement said. “A memo was sent to the UC, at the same time as to the media and the public, of a termination of contract notice. We can’t help but wonder if there were ulterior reasons to motivate such a disproportionate response.”

Of the six breaches that the notice brings forward, three of them included the business relationship between the North Humboldt Recreation and Park District, focusing in particular on the Arcata Community Pool.

According to the notice, the UC Board opened a $300,000 line of credit for the NHRPD in Aug. of this year, as well as transferring $100,000 and $50,ooo to them in Feb. and July respectively. These actions, according to the president’s statement, violate Executive Order 1059 which states that  “Campus auxiliary organizations are . . . operated solely for the benefit of the campus.”

In a separate email, Martin said “Everything the University Center did with respect to the line of credit we extended to the Arcata Community Pool was done above-board, in public, and even the University Controller recommended it and voted in favor of it, as did administrator Dean of Students Dr. Eboni Turnbow.

“For the President to pull the termination trigger on our operating agreement is akin to using a nuclear bomb to respond to a mosquito bite,” Martin said.

Dean Turnbow was also not one of the administrative team members mentioned in the notice of termination, which included Vice President for Administration & Finance Sherie Gordon and Vice President for Enrollment Management Jason Meriwether.

Gracie Oliva, a student employee of the HBAC, expressed her concerns during a September interview about administration’s decisions, calling it a slap in the face to the entire student body.

“I want students to know that if Center Activities or HBAC are affected, it would be a detrimental change,” Olivia said. “The Recreation Administration program is held up by these programs. Without them, I feel like it would crumble.”

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