Q & A with adjunct instructor assaulted at Oct. 19 board meeting

Posted on 26 October 2017 by admin

Adjunct instructor Steve Taylor tells his side of the story

Interview by: Melissa Wilkinson

taylorFollowing the Oct. 19 Board of Trustees meeting where adjunct professor Steve Taylor was tackled to the ground, arrested and sustained injuries, The Montage hosted a Q&A with Taylor to uncover his thoughts regarding the incident.

What happened at the Oct. 19 Board of Trustees meeting?

I actually arrived after the beginning. I did not hear any original announcement or anything. I taught until seven at night, a calculus course at Harris Stowe. And then I drove and didn’t get to the  [Cosand] center until seven thirty…I had prepared remarks. I brought my award that I had won and I also had some of my evaluations. I just wanted to show that I was a very earnest and good instructor. I wanted to talk about how the culture was changing at STLCC, how I felt that the institution was stalling under the current leadership.

The chancellor gave his report and we clapped politely, even though I totally disagree with his policies, because it’s a courteous thing to do. I think it’s the proper thing to do when you give a presentation in class. They’re offering something to the public.

Then one of our faculty spoke and people clapped politely and I was surprised that we were not able to clap. I felt that that was rude. If you can clap for one side and not the other…you’re manufacturing consent for the administration’s position. It’s…a co-optation of our speech.

I actually walked up to the middle of the aisle. What I intended was a parliamentary inquiry. From my understanding I thought they were going beyond their authority as the board. I know they can limit time but I’m unsure they can limit clapping.

Rodney Gee was sort of yelling…very aggressively and then I was approached from behind. I didn’t know what was happening. I was grabbed, I ended up being pushed and my legs were brought out from underneath me. I flew through the air. He came down on top of me, my head hit first.

Then I got up. I said there’s a problem with the culture. I received no instruction from law enforcement, no legal instruction from anyone telling me anything until I was on the ground. I had no indication from an officer that I must leave. Gee is a trustee; he can’t order anyone to do anything. I was trying to be respectful. I worked in Congress for 12 years; I organized town halls.

Even a congressman cannot tell anyone to sit down or shut up. You can have law enforcement say it. If that had happened I would have said yes and left. But I never received any instruction. I was making a legitimate parliamentary inquiry.

I think [Vice Chairman Gee] had a very condescending and aggressive tone. I’m really sad to see how [the board] ejected students who voiced their concerns about what was happening. Is that the way to treat students who are upset? I think their concern for students is very hollow indeed.

What injuries did you sustain?

I have a concussion, some very extensive bruising, possibly a fractured rib.

What do you hope will come of this?

I believe that the board needs to be more transparent, responsive, civil…not just go through the motions of public hearings, but actually listen. I believe the Chancellor has changed the culture. Mr. Pittman has created a culture of intimidation where faculty are afraid to express contrary opinions for fear of being fired or demoted. I’m saying that most sincerely. Many of the full time faculty have come to me who feel that Pittman does not tolerate alternative viewpoints. He rules with an iron fist. If you are contrary you will suffer consequences. I think we saw that translated to Rodney Gee expressing that sentiment at the board meeting against someone who dares to challenge their viewpoints.

I think there should be a vote of no confidence for Chancellor Pittman and he should be removed. I think if the board doesn’t do it they are supportive of this culture which caused this most egregious display.

What’s next for you?

Right now I have to concentrate on healing and getting back to my classrooms. I teach at Harris Stowe…Jefferson College…Right now I think there’s a healthier environment [at these schools] for faculty and students. I am an alumnus of STLCC. I will always value and respect that institution. That’s why I’ve been working to defend the culture I grew up with there. I feel like the college is under attack by this relative newcomer who doesn’t understand the culture.

Pittman has shown no real true leadership. For a person with a doctorate in educational leadership, why has he not said anything about this? I am disappointed in the man. He’s responsible for the culture. I think we can turn it around but not with chancellor Pittman at the helm.

Since I’m no longer allowed on [any STLCC] campus, I will miss my students and my colleagues. I encourage [them] to be strong and stand up for STLCC.

  • Jackson Trett

    This is complete bull!! How many chancellors has STLCC had in the last 10 years? So the problem is EVERY chanellor and not the arrogant, pompous, self-serving faculty? Faculty complains to no end and they are largely to blame as to why this college is in the state it is. Enrollment is at an all time low. Pittman has been nothing but transparent every step of the way. The Governor and Missouri GOP sliced higher ed funding by MILLIONS!!

    What do they propose we do to make up the difference? He, along with most faculty are OLD, CLUELESS, and as outdated as the buildings they teach in. They should be ashamed!

  • Jackson Trett

    If any “culture” needs to change…it’s the culture of the faculty who think they rule and have the final say in any decision at the college. If STLCC doesn’t get in younger, innovative faculty and staff they will soon be a thing of the past.

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