Editor’s Note: The following story of Ryan Morgan’s resignation is told from his point-of-view as other people involved refused or were unable to comment on specific events.
During winter quarter, the Office of Student Life lost three of its activity board members; one was former Entertainment Coordinator Ryan Morgan.
Morgan officially resigned on Feb. 19 but planned to continue working until Feb. 28. He said because of a conflict with Student Life Coordinator Sonja Morgan, he stopped working four days early.
Although Morgan is able to freely discuss his resignation with the student newspaper, permanent Office of Student Life employees are not allowed to comment on employee behavior.
“Due to confidentiality, I cannot speak to the details of the situation. I will say that the Office of Student Life takes the safety, health and success of its employees very seriously,” Sonja Morgan said. “We strive to create a positive environment for optimal student learning and growth as professionals.”
Ryan Morgan and Sonja Morgan are not related.
He said he resigned because he was going to be fired because of a sexual harassment incident involving another member of the activities board.
The claim was reported to Pierce College administrators, who then decided on the repercussions for the incident.
Student Life Director Sean Cooke said he was not allowed to discuss the matter because of employee confidentiality.
The sexual harassment incident allegedly happened on Valentine’s Day when student leaders were distributing condoms to students as part of a campus event. Free condoms usually are available at the front desk in the Office of Student Life, but these condoms were attached to candy suckers and other items. Ryan Morgan was given one of the condoms, but he said didn’t want it. As a joke, he said, he placed it on the desk of a female student leader.
She was unhappy to discover the condom on her desk and reported the incident to Office of Student Life permanent staff members. Ryan Morgan said the incident was taken out of context and made into something more damaging than it was. Originally, he was told that it would be dismissed, but it wasn’t.
In addition to no longer working in the office, he is on disciplinary probation and isn’t allowed inside the Office of Student Life or to loiter within 30 feet of the office.
These repercussions were at the discretion of the college administrators because no set guidelines for complaints exist, according to Vice President of Human Resources Holly Gorski.
“There is not a standard punishment for sexual harassment because there is a range of possible actions may be considered harassment and they are not all equally severe,” Gorski said. “Also, depending on the circumstances, an individual’s prior record of discipline may be taken into account when deciding what is an appropriate response.”
Ryan Morgan said he’s unaware of an official sexual harassment claim being filed with local law enforcement officials.
He explained that while he felt the situation was not dealt with properly in the Office of Student Life, college administrators handled it well.
“I think for the situation it was not handled well,” Ryan Morgan said, “but the school dealt with it in the right way.”
Ryan Morgan said if he had known the effects of his actions, he wouldn’t have placed the condom on the other student leader’s desk.
Ryan Morgan doesn’t believe other factors affected his forced resignation. He felt he was performing his job to, and above, the standards set.
Before the incident, he had planned one event—a comedy show—for the spring quarter and had ideas for other events.
Even though he said he did his job well, he shared he didn’t like the work environment in the office before and during the incident.
“I wasn’t comfortable in the work environment, especially this last quarter,” Ryan Morgan said. “I distanced myself from others in the office.”
Ryan Morgan plans to finish his last quarter at Pierce College quietly, and then take some time off from school to choose what he wants to study at a university.
Ryan Morgan said he chose to resign to distance himself from the incident in hopes that it will be forgotten. He said he doesn’t plan to fight the sexual harassment charges.
“There is no point in causing drama to hurt other people’s work just because they made me angry,” Ryan Morgan said.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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