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Dotty Slick rehired

By Alyce Eaton,

Two months ago, Daria “Dotty” Slick of the Diversity and Achievement Office was placed on an administrative leave. Students who had interacted with Slick in her work as the College’s Intercultural Affairs Associate were both surprised and dismayed at the decision. After an outpouring of student support, Slick returned to her position last week.

Dotty Slick
Photograph by Abraham Kohrman

“I really appreciate that [the College] worked with me and that we were able to resolve what initially were differences,” Slick said. “I am thankful that we were able to come to that agreement, and once we worked together, we were able to resolve it fairly quickly.”

Slick returned to the same position she had held prior to going on administrative leave. She works with a variety of student groups, including those housed in the multicultural suites, the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) and the Black Cultural Center. Some academic advising, the Peer Connections Program, and some mentoring programs also fall under her domain. Slick was also the on-campus mentor for L.A. Posse 5.

“Dotty is my mentor. We [in that Posse] would meet with her weekly, just to discuss our transition to college,” said Rose Chavira ’11. “She took on the role of being a guide and a mentor and at the same time, a connection to home. She became basically a counselor for the nine of us that were in the Posse.”

Students who had had a relationship with Slick were generally surprised to learn that she was being put on leave on Aug. 26 of this year.

“It happened really fast. I found out, as most Grinnellians do, through word of mouth,” said D.C. Posse 5 member Jumi Bello ’13. “When I found out, I kind of freaked out. I ran to her office in the [Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice] and knocked on the door, but the door was locked.”

Cyril Afeku ’13, who worked with Slick through the International Student Organization and the African and Caribbean Students Union, was one of many students who were upset with the lack of communication throughout the entire event.

“That was just a weird scenario, because nobody really knew what was going on, she couldn’t tell us and the school couldn’t tell us what was going on because of legal actions,” Afeku said. “Everybody was just all hush-hush and there were so many different rumors going around.”

The lack of communication in this case was due to the ongoing appeals process. Associate Dean Kathleen Skerrett, who is the Acting Vice President for Diversity and Achievement, wants students to consider employee confidentiality.

“I know students feel frustrated when communications do not give details. The faculty and staff at Grinnell College … are entitled to have lives that are not the object of speculation or questioning by others,” Skerrett wrote in an email. “Confidentiality means that we respect that people are entitled to tell their own stories to whom they choose.”

The initial response to Slick’s leave was a question of how to get her back. Students close to Slick organized meetings to discuss options. The leaders of these meetings urged students who had worked with Slick to write letters to the administration on her behalf. Many students participated in this campaign, including Chavira.

“Basically the effort started with Ragnar Thorisson ’11, Mario Macias ’11, and a couple of other people that are part of Queer People of Color or the SRC in general, they basically sent out a massive email to the multicultural suites and anybody that had contact with Dotty,” Chavira said. “[They asked us] to write a letter about how she had helped us, or our interactions with her on a day-to-day basis. From there, it was all collected and basically given as proof of what she has done for the College and why she needs to be reinstated.”

The letters were collected and sent to the Administration. Slick herself also received a copy of each one.

“In my heart, I really feel that that did have an impact [on my return],” she said. “Their support and their advocacy, it just made me feel good that, no matter what the outcome would’ve been, to know that I made a difference in people’s lives.”

Many students with close ties to Slick received emails from her about her return once a decision was made. The student body as a whole heard the announcement at Drag Show, which was received to loud applause.

“I’m rarely speechless,” Slick said, “But that was one of those moments where I was speechless. All of that positive, loving, generous energy—I don’t know what can top that in my lifetime. I really appreciate that outpouring of love and care.”

Now back on the job, Slick is catching up with what she missed in her two months away from Grinnell. Many students are overjoyed to see her back, and looking forward to working with her again.

“I think there was a big void,” Chavira said. “And being that she’s one of the people that [many students] here turn to, it just felt like somebody was missing. … Ultimately, we’re just really glad to have her back.”

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    FrankNov 30, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Thanks VP of Diversity Elena Bernal for… well, nothing since you abandoned the college. But thanks Dean Skerrett for your leadership!