Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT STATE – A staff member at Humboldt State University radio station KHSU is alleging inappropriate, possibly race-based abuse by a university vice president.
Lorna Bryant, office manager at the station, claims that she "was subjected to abusive behavior" by University Advancement Vice President Craig Wruck during a July 11 staff meeting. Bryant claims that Wruck yelled at her with attempts to shut down her speech, with none of the fellow staff members speaking up for her.
Bryant states that she has been "traumatized" by the incident, which left her "cautious to interact with unfamiliar people in my community."
Wruck had no immediate response.
Bryant, who also serves as media liaison for the Eureka NAACP and has announced her intention to run for Arcata City Council, made the allegations in a letter (see below) sent to several Humboldt State and California State University officials as well as state and congressional representatives.
The university radio station has been under virtual siege since May, when longtime Operations Director Katie Whiteside was fired for reasons unknown. The dismissal set off an avalanche of criticism of station management, particularly General Manager Peter Fretwell. The criticism has since extended to the university administration, including Wruck and President Lisa Rossbacher.
Bryant's allegations could come up at the monthly KHSU Community Advisory Board meeting, which takes place Wednesday night, July 25 at 6:30 p.m. in Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) Room 166. Members of the university administration have been asked to attend, and may do so.
President Rossbacher, et al,
I was recently traumatized by an encounter at my place of work. It's taken me over a week to process the experience and I have just reached a point of comfort to discuss it.
On July 11, 2018 during a weekly KHSU staff meeting, I was subjected to abusive behavior from Craig Wruck, HSU University Advancement vice president. I was yelled at; I felt disrespected; and there were consistent attempts to keep me from speaking. A majority of station staff was present during this most uncomfortable exchange. When this happened, no one intervened on my behalf - not even the KHSU general manager. This type of treatment from a high level administrator was/is both shocking and offensive.
As the only African American woman on staff at KHSU, and the entire University Advancement division, it's quite troubling to receive such treatment from a university administrator. The behavior from the university's 2nd in command made me quite uncomfortable and fearful of further interaction with Craig Wruck. With the current national climate against people of color, I am regularly concerned about the treatment and personal attacks I may encounter in public. The recent uptick of members of the public calling police on African Americans for 'African Americaning
' -- just going about daily life -- makes me cautious to interact with unfamiliar people in my community. I never once expected to be afraid of attacks from HSU administrators...and in my place of employment, no less. What's most shocking and disappointing is the fact that Craig Wruck previously worked with Humboldt Area Foundation's Equity Alliance of the North Coast
, whose goal is:
"...understanding and improving racial and social equity through education, dialogue, and coaching for organizations and individuals."
Craig Wruck has recently expressed desire to collaborate with Equity Arcata
's Ourcata: Equity Communication and Education working group, of which I am the group leader. It leads me to question how someone who supposedly has an interest in ensuring our community is welcoming, respectful and inclusive to all people can then be outright abusive and demeaning to their lone African American subordinate.
I am seeking guidance on what steps to take next. I truly love public radio and I am gratified to contribute to KHSU in many capacities - from public affairs to music; working administratively and collaboratively with our volunteers and fellow staff; and lastly, through my connections on campus and throughout the community in which I live, work and play.
Thank you advance for whatever guidance, assistance or counsel you may offer. I look forward to your response.