Instructor leaves LBCC, cites conflict with co-worker and ‘culture of bullying’

LBCC instructor Dana Emerson leaves her job, saying, “I no longer felt safe at work.”

Photo by Mathew Brock.

Dana Emerson has worked at LBCC for 10 years as a full-time contracted employee teaching communication and holding a past leadership role as the Communication Department Chair.

Originally planning to continue working at LBCC while finishing her dissertation at Oregon State University, Emerson has had a change of heart after a complicated set of circumstances surrounding a 2014 incident involving a fellow instructor.

At the end of spring term she will disappear from campus and begin a new teaching position out of state.

Dr. Shakti Butler and Dana Emerson hold a piece of art after the lecture about racial inequity. Photo by Javier Cervantes.

“After a string of unresolved events, a broken work relationship and an incident that occurred during spring term, I no longer felt safe at work,” said Emerson.The original conflict arose after a fellow instructor had brought a complaint about a third instructor. The complaint was made on behalf of a “student leader” who believed a group of students had been treated unfairly by the other instructor. As department chair, Emerson was tasked with handling the incident.

“I didn’t understand why [the instructor] had this information. [They] and I strongly disagreed as to whether or not the student leader’s job was to solicit these complaints and keep a file. After a brief investigation and lots of meetings, issues came to light that were not favorable to [the complaining party],” said Emerson.

Tension between Emerson and the instructor reached a breaking point shortly after the meeting in which Emerson clarified her findings. She no longer thought attempting to work out their differences was possible. After she began to feel threatened by the other instructor, who allegedly became emotionally shaken, she spoke with school officials about what the appropriate course of action was to resolve the conflict between the two.

“Actually, my conflict isn’t really with [the instructor], it is with the college for dismissing my concerns, which created a situation that never had to happen. They seem to be satisfied with a culture of bullying, harassment, and hostility that many on campus are experiencing. And the strategy for dealing with this culture seems to be to blame and punish the victims.”

The Commuter spoke to the other instructor in question about this story; the instructor declined to comment.

Human Resources was unable to comment on this situation directly, but HR Director Scott Rolen clarified what strategies the school uses in dealing with such circumstances. Unlike conflict between two students, where there are clear systems in place when it comes to conduct at LBCC, instructors who find themselves in a similar situation are generally encouraged to handle the disagreement amongst themselves. In the event the two are unable to reach a resolution, the next step is to involve a manager or speak with the college’s Human Resources department.

Rolen referred to Administrative Rule 1015-01: “Complaints about conduct related issues issues [sic] other than alleged discrimination or harassment may be submitted in accordance with the applicable board policy, administrative rule, collective bargaining agreement procedure […]”

“I think the college is reluctant to engage in meaningful and mandatory training when it comes to hostility, bullying, and harassment,” Emerson said. “Also, when you put race, culture, and diversity into that mix, there is a potential for a huge problem. There are very few people on this campus that share a culture of understanding with me: My dean doesn’t, HR doesn’t, and the [instructor] doesn’t — yet they all share a culture of understanding that allows them to dismiss my reality and reduce any conflict as being a misunderstanding on my part which allows me, the victim, to be blamed and punished.”

In this case, both the dean and Human Resources were made aware of the difficulties. That is where the larger issue of how the college addresses such conflicts came to the surface and ultimately precipitated Emerson’s decision to leave the school.

“I think the college could have done more not only in addressing the situation but also in responding to my concerns as my working relationship and environment went from bad to worse. I don’t believe that my concerns were taken seriously and I was consistently told that my concerns were simply my misunderstanding of someone’s behavior,” said Emerson.

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The Beautiful Neighborhood: Homeless in Lebanon (Pt. 2) Christopher Trotchie returns to his “A Beautiful Neighborhood” article to offer a revealing follow-up to the darker side of houseless culture.

Many communities such as Lebanon share the social issue of homelessness.

The neighborhood you live in might have similar qualities to Lebanon: small, beautiful and full of kind people, but does your neighborhood have a darker side; one that when confronted with, it is easier —way easier— to look the other way instead of trying to address?

The article “The Beautiful Neighborhood,” published by The Commuter Oct. 14, took a deeper look into Lebanon’s vagrant population and challenged readers to look into the daily lives of many people who prefer the title of houseless over homeless.

The cloud of secrecy that envelops most houselessness in small-town communities such as Lebanon seem to conceal a prejudice that houseless individuals are getting what they deserve because of the choices they made in life. Acomment left by a person known only as Stephanie harped on that very point.

He is just where he deserves to be. He was a narcissistic, drug addled romeo. […] I am so sorry for his misfortune but I’m sure he brought it on by his own actions.

One of Lebanon’s newer community members has a deeper understanding of daily life for the houseless. After a life of living on the streets since the age of 16 Marlon J. Mendoza recently moved in with his mother, a resident of Lebanon for over 20 years.

“I pictured myself working construction, surfing and having a place on the beach.”

But after a few wrong turns and becoming involved with crack cocaine, Mendoza’s options in life narrowed down to simply surviving. Even though Mendoza enjoyed living “free” he feels the reason he was houseless had a lot to do with the fact that society accepted it.

According to him, part of the problem of people living on the streets has to do with the roles people associate themselves with and the roles they fit everyone else into. Mendoza feels society expected him to act a certain way, so he did.

“You have to change for the people who want to help you.”

The same may be true among the folks at River Park where many of Lebanon’s houseless community gather daily to live out their lives.

Violence, poverty, drug use, and camaraderie are the cornerstones of the houseless community in River Park. Either way people choose to view the community and its internal politics, one thing’s for sure, the local houseless population of Lebanon will be posted up at picnic shelters in River Park sneaking: alcohol, smoking marijuana, or using other illicit drugs.

Individuals who make their homes in the brambles and alleyways of Lebanon deal with a difficult situation daily; most of which are only spoken from one houseless person to another. Addressing the issue of houselessness is no small task, however to pretend it is not an issue or that it is acceptable, is irresponsible.

In a 2009 report released by Linn County Health Services it stated that, “Homeless face a mountain of health issues.” The most concerning according to the report is the availability of psychotropic medication and medical services for houseless individuals.

The cycle that perpetuates from the lack of mental health care in our communities is felt on many levels, but merely arresting individuals simply to return them to the same situation seems to be compounding the issue.

Maybe some chose a homeless lifestyle. Maybe some end up homeless through a course of unrelated events. Maybe the example set by looking the other way is just as bad as the choices the houseless made to end up in their situation.

Turiya Autry on Life, Race, and the United States: TURIYA AUTRY ANSWERS QUESTIONS ABOUT LBCC’S UNITY CELEBRATION

Turiya Autry recently headlined LBCC’s Unity Celebration. Held in the Fireside Room Wednesday, Feb. 26, she inspired a room full of strangers to raise their voices up together,  celebrating the diversity our society has.

 She challenged each person in the room to look at a bigger picture of life, one that includes not just our own vision, but one that attempts to illuminate the backdrop of our individual vantages of life with each other’s experiences, good and bad.

 In this interview, Autry delves even deeper into her concepts in an attempt to offer one thing that seems to be slipping through the cracks of our society: Clarity.

Question: What do events like the Unity Celebration mean to you?

 Answer: When we come together and break bread, share in an inspiring event, recognize those who give back – we are building community. To do that with a desire to make the marginalized more visible and central, while embracing the entire community is powerful and necessary. To have unity we must have mutual love, appreciation and respect. In order to get to know each other across our differences, we have to make spaces and places for folks to interact with significant ideas and realities from a variety of angles, not just in a classroom setting. Fusing arts, history, and politics with poetics and appetizers is a win-win.

 Q: What is the key to successfully navigate through miscommunications?

 A: Every situation and person is different. There is no one way to avoid miscommunication or navigate through it when it occurs. Here are some things that I find helpful:

 I try to remember “unconditional positive regard.” Every person has a story and a perspective and is worthy of being seen and treated with positive regard, even when we don’t see them at their best selves.  We do not know their path and future, or their entire history. We can’t change people, they have to change for themselves. We can’t enter into debate, conversations and interpersonal relationships, thinking that we can change people. We can give folks information and share our views, but people ultimately change for themselves, when and if they choose, on their own time. Listen for the meaning and intention of what people are saying, rather than judging and critiquing based solely on word choice and vocabulary. I see a lot of conversations shut down when a person uses a wrong term or isn’t as fluid in expressing their ideas. To encourage conversation we have to be open to hearing what people actually have to say without always leaping to the roles of judging and correcting. Once people feel attacked, they start to shut down. For people who are trying to be allies to marginalized folks, it is also really important to listen more, talk less, and do the work. There are libraries full of books and an internet full of resources; don’t expect the marginalized to be your encyclopedias and research database. When it comes to identity, dynamics and societal “isms,” there is a wealth of material out there. Read articles, watch some documentary videos, read some books, check out some art about it.

  1. How do you think the United states is doing in regards to race relations?

 A: Horrible. Unless you consider the true nature of the country and how it was built on ideas of supremacy, by very few over the masses. Race relations were about dominating, annihilating and exclusion; it is what the country was built on. The blood and bones of Native Americans, Black people, immigrants, the poor, and working class folks and otherwise exploited, are the foundation of the U.S. superpower status. In that sense, the country is right on track with its race relations. Five Hundred years of this specific brand of “race relations” has led to a pretty well run institution of inequity: see the One percent- five percent and their rising wealth versus everyone else, see the public lynching revival via police departments and neighbors with guns and chokeholds, see the wage/housing/employment/incarceration/achievement/wealth gaps.

 “Race” is the elephant that’s been defecating in the room for 500 years, and folks want to burn a candle under some potpourri and act like everything’s good now, but we really don’t have time for that anymore.

At a Glance:

LBCC Unity Celebration has run for the past six years.

Website 

Other press

Applied Technologies: Take a look at the Future

LBCC hosts high school students for the High School Industrial Skills Contest.

The Russell Tripp Performance Center packed in approximately 250 prospective LBCC students from 19 different Oregon high schools for an awards ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 4.

Students in attendance toured LBCC’s Albany campus facilities throughout the day, had a barbeque lunch behind the Industrial Arts Building, and finished up their trip with an awards ceremony. The awards acknowledged the high schoolers’ abilities in industrial technologies such as welding, fabrication, and reading technical drawings among other skills.

David Becker, dean of business, applied technology and industry division, took to the stage with a presentation about employment opportunities in the industrial jobs market. He outlined what emerging job markets are trending towards and discussed how a two-year degree or certificate is a viable way for students to prepare for the future.

“Seven out of ten jobs in the next ten years are going to require a two-year degree or certificates,” said Becker.

He pointed out that many graduates with four-year degrees are competing for low-paying, entry-level positions in the professional sector. Becker also discussed nationally rising college debt, and how a bachelors degree may not be the best choice for everyone.

“Today, you can go to community college for two-years and be out making as much, if not more money, than someone who has a four year degree,” said Becker.

Becker concluded his presentation with a short video about the current job market and transitioned into an award ceremony.

David Ketler, LBCC instructor, took to the stage and began calling out students’ names from a long list of winners. He recognized each student’s achievement in a wide range of fields, including: drafting and engineering, heavy equipment, diesel technology, machine tool technology, and welding technology.

Students in attendance were in the running for prizes that ranged from LBCC hats and sweatshirts to welding hoods and welding machines. Prizes were provided by community members along with the school.

As Ketler called out each name, the room erupted with applause, followed by hoots and cat-calls that intertwined the groups of students in the room into a fabric that shared the same common thread.

“Dabs” and Confused

editors note [I did the first section of this story.]

“Dabs” — The future of recreational marijuana? A concern to some but welcomed by others, “dabs” remain shrouded in mystery for many.

A “dab” is a highly concentrated form of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBD (Cannabidiol) that is derived from synthesizing marijuana. Many other drugs such as cocaine, Methanphetamines, and ecstasy use a synthesis process to intensify the effect of the drug.The term dab comes from the amount of concentrated THC and CBD used to achieve a “high.”

Experts agree that the use of dabs is on the rise in America.

Wax, crumble, shatter, honey oil, butter … none of these names conjure images of Willie Nelson toking marijuana out of an apple or Bob Marley exhaling a bellow of thick smoke with beaming red eyes. With exploding mobile homes, butane extraction methods, and a substance that resembles a designer drug bought and sold in small coin baggies, “dabs” are replacing the image of peace signs, rolling hills of lush green marijuana plants, and VW buses making a break for the state line.

With Oregon’s newly passed law — legalization of recreational marijuana — it appears cannabis culture will be ushering in a new age July 1. As many Oregonians look to incorporate marijuana into the general dynamics of our society, many are hopeful

the drug will boost the state’s economic vitality, lower incarceration rates, and possibly take money out of the pockets of criminal organizations.

Opponents seem to agree the new law sets dangerous precedents; ultimately standards seem to be slipping into a drug induced “purple haze” that could affect many in society. Either way one feels on the matter, life will not be the same.

The stereotype of a long-haired hippie sneaking off to the alley for a dubie is morphing into a closed-door society of dabbers.

The processing

Dabs culminate from a process of stripping marijuana plants of the many microscopic trichomes that cover the entire surface of the plant. The trichomes contain THC and CBD, the compounds that give a mind and body high.

There are a plethora of ways to make dabs. There is much debate on what the “cleanest” or “purest” forms of dabs truly are, since most methods involve using a solvent containing harmful chemicals. The most common way of extracting the trichomes is using butane to get the product BHO, or butane hash oil.

Producers use alcohol, water, CO2, propane, and dry ice among other solvents. With the large array of solvents comes a larger array of techniques to wash the trichomes off the plant matter.

The end process includes vacuum purging, which removes the majority of solvent residue and can provide the producer with almost 100 percent THC or CBD. With a quality purger, the only other trace materials in the oil will be plant matter.

Strains with higher CBD levels are used for the  medical-marijuana industry.

“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound in cannabis that has medical effects but does not make people feel ‘stoned’ and can actually counter the psychoactive effects of THC,” according to ProjectCBD.org Director Martin A. Lee. “After decades in which only high-THC cannabis was available, CBD-rich strains are now being grown by and for medical users.”

ProjectCBD.org is a non-profit educational program for the promotion of CBD for medical use.

CBD does not give you a mental high and is known to combat multiple illnesses, including nausea, seizures, psychosis, inflammation, tumors and cancer cells, anxiety, depression, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Dabs are sold on the streets and in dispensaries. According to Jonathon Brown, a medical marijuana grower and former LBCC student, in Oregon the price can range from $25 to $40 a gram on the streets and as high as $60 in the shops. Some places have been known to price their oil in the $100 range. Compared to marijuana buds, concentrates are almost twice as expensive.

For oil to be sold as medicine, Brown tests for solvents either in-house or in a laboratory. High quality or medical grade oil may have a low solvent level in ppb (parts per billion), requiring a more sensitive test than a standard lab test that determines levels in parts per million (ppm).

Brown uses a more sensitive test because his patients prefer the purest oil. The competition is to see who can produce the best dabs. Most dispensaries keep their recipes top secret if made in-house.

Social impact

Considering that most concerns around the use of dabs are related to the extraction process which entails the use of a significant amount of butane, it is only reasonable to address the potential health risks a user might incur as a side effect from ingestion.

From ScienceDirect.com under “Addictive Behaviors,” a study by Mallory Loflin and Mitch Earleywine showed that “despite press reports that suggest that ‘dabbing’ is riskier than smoking flower cannabis, no data address whether dabs users experience more problems from use than those who prefer flower cannabis.”

From an article in High Times, Russ Bellville explains that “someone who smokes too much weed may get the munchies and fall asleep, but someone who over-dabs can end up passing out or puking their guts out.”

Other physical risks seem to manifest during the onset of the “high” as an experience of anxiety.

Although the feel of taking dabs can “promote a feeling of comfort between friends, it can promote anxiety between strangers,” said an OSU student who asked to remain unnamed.

“I was all in my head and my body was just really heavy,” said an LBCC student who also asked not to be named in this article.

The high of a dab was also described as similar to that of edibles, and that the intensity of taking a dab placed it in a realm of being “the designer drug of marijuana.”

With the advent of dabs, traditional pot smoking may begin to decline. Concerns about using dabs and their long-term effects include addiction, lack of motivation, isolation from “the real world,” and an increase of social anxiety. Although it has been argued as physically not possible to become addicted to marijuana, with this new form of synthetic refinement the possibility of addiction is prominent in conversations and articles.

As stated in Claire Doan’s article on KCRA.com, drug addiction specialist Jon Daily said, “The symptoms of wax, dabs, or butter include psychotic breaks, having hallucinations, seeing things that are not there, hearing things that are not there, having tactile sensations like something’s crawling under my skin. It’s much more addicting. I think there’s going to be psychological ramifications to come. I think we’re going to see more psychosis with it, more anxiety with it. We’re going to see more sleep problems with it.”

“I’ve had a 240-600 mg oxycodone habit, quit cold turkey and never once had withdrawal symptoms similar,” said an unnamed Corvallis resident who has experienced dab withdrawals.

The prominence of dabs at parties seems to be pretty low, staying more in the end of a “kickback” vibe, no physical activity other than smoking is tied to dabbing. Dabbing is the activity. Taking a dab or not can be the deciding factor of how a person feels for the next six to 10 hours.

For some it has become a normal part of daily life but for most dabs are regarded as a crossroad. The sense of exclusivity that follows dabbers hints at the fact that the dab scene is fairly exclusive.

“Casual dab smokers are hard to find,” said the OSU student.

Part of the exclusivity is due to the cost of dabs, while the other part is the cost of obtaining a “dab rig,” which consists of using a blowtorch to heat a metal platform that is attached to a glass water piece. Together they resemble the taboo of smoking crack.

“It sneaks up on you, and then you’ll just be like, ‘Oh shit!’” said the OSU student.

Legal Implications

Smoking marijuana has come a long way since “Reefer Madness,” an anti-marijuana  propaganda movie was made in 1936. It has turned from a simple joint-smoking session to “dabbing” out.

Although this “dab” life is becoming more common, it is still marijuana and therefore illegal to smoke, for now.

Under Measure 91, concentrates made at home are illegal to produce, possess or smoke. Homemade production or possession of up to a quarter ounce of homemade “dabs” is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which could result in six months in jail and maximum fine of $2,500.

If caught with more than a quarter ounce of homemade “dabs” it is considered a Class C felony, which entails at least six years in jail and a maximum fine of $125,000. However, “dabs” made at a state-licensed cannabis retailer are legal to possess and smoke.

At A Glance:

For more information

pictures of dab user 

Adjuncts Walk-About Not Out

Adjunct instructors across the nation “walked out,” “taught in,” or in the case of LBCC’s campus “walked about” On Feb. 24 while taking part in National Adjunct Walk out day.

Taking shifts throughout the day as their teaching schedules would allow, many adjunct instructors including Peggy McDowell, math instructor, picketed in the Courtyard between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“This campus was the best place I ever worked at until a few years ago,“ said McDowell.

The concept of teachers taking time out of their busy day to create awareness sounds counter intuitive to some, but the fact that adjunct employees are creating a fuss is concerning for many students.

“You get a lot more out of people when they are comfortable and secure,” said student Gerald Thomas.

Mary Borman, part-time faculty association president was disappointed in the turn out but blamed a lack of advertising as the main factor for the poor turn out. She acknowledged that even though the planning for the event came together at the last minute, she was happy with the end result.

“Most students had no idea about the part-time issues. So, it was really good to be able to have conversations with them.”

According to Borman the administration supported their efforts and Dale Stowell, executive director of institutional advancement, confirmed.

“We support free and civil discourse,” said Stowell.

On March 18, the PTFA will have an action item presented at the Board of Education meeting that if supported will acknowledged the PTFA as a bargaining unit for part-time faculty members.

Linn-Benton Community College Celebrates Sixth Annual Unity Celebration

Stand out students along with socially conscious community members were acknowledged for their contributions towards the promotion of social justice, at the sixth annual Unity Celebration Wednesday, Feb. 26.

The Fireside Room of the Calapooia Center, located on the Albany campus of LB, drew a large crowd of students, school faculty, and community members.

This year’s event showcased a live performance from Turiya Autry, renowned artist and acclaimed author. She performed selections from her book “Reality and Rhyme.” She also led a reluctant room of tentative participants through some spoken word exercises by cuing the audience to interject “Justice now! Freedom now!” during one of her pieces. At one point she was able to get everyone singing in harmony.

During the evening Autry challenged the room full of people to examine their personal beliefs about race and community during her presentation by explaining that all life came from Africa and in actuality we are all related.

“I want us to unify,” said Autry.

Robin Havenick, one of the founding members of The Unity Celebration, led a performance that infused an assortment of African American literature recited to a guitar played by Mark Weiss, LB counselor. As the ensemble read in unison, the group would pause letting a single member of the group read a short passage from different poems.

The LB Poetry Club offered individual readings over the course of the evening. Some were meant to be funny while others carried an emotional toll on the reader. All were enjoyed by the audience.

“I really enjoyed the poetry readings. Each one was unique and captivating to hear. I had no idea we had a poetry club but they were truly talented,” said student Nikki Aman.

Food at the event was a selection of world cuisine. Beverages were provided by the local cider house Two Towns, and wine was also available.

The emotional height of the evening came to a crescendo during the award ceremony where members of the LB community along with  Linn and Benton counties were called to the stage where they were recognized for their individual efforts.

The Analee Fuentes Unity Award and the Gary Westford Community Connection awards signify efforts to create a more socially responsible society. Those awarded received a certificate and a undisclosed monetary endowment. This year’s Gary Westford Community Connection award went to Dee Curwen for her involvement as the director of the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center.

LB student Kamran Mizra was awarded the Analee Fuentes Unity Award in recognition for her efforts while working with the gender, sexual and romantic minorities of the LB community. Mirza was instrumental in the realization of LB’s unlabeled gender neutral bathrooms.

Mary Mayfield, faculty member in The Adult Basic Education and GED department, won the Analee Fuentes Unity Award for her efforts in overcoming circumstances, that had she not, would have resulted in the discontinuation of the Spanish GED program. Kim Sullivan won the non-faculty award for her efforts with the International Student Program.

The audience applauded at the conclusion of the event showing the appreciation for the opportunity to be involved at this year’s celebration. The biggest takeaway appeared to be the sense of community each attendee experienced in the room that night.

“It is up to people like us, the scholars, artists, writers, and teachers to infuse our community with light we’ve kindled in our own hearts,” said Dari Lawrie, LB student poet laureate.

Anyone interested in helping to continue the Unity Celebration’s success should contact Dana Emerson in the communication department.