Maintenance Panel Holds Final Meeting
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
The Maintenance Management Advisory Panel (MMAP) met for a final time last night amidst a new flurry of accusations from faculty and staff regarding the College’s erstwhile plans to outsource certain maintenance employees.
The panel was expected to make its formal recommendation as early as last night, but as of press time the committee’s chair, Columbus lawyer and Kenyon Trustee Larry James, had not indicated that the group was ready to announce its decision.
On Wednesday morning, James said he expected President S. Georgia Nugent to generally follow whatever recommendation MMAP produces.
“I can’t speak for what the president is going to do with the recommendation. I would assume that she’s going to follow it, but that’s my best judgment,” James said.
Nugent, for her part, said she would wait until the panel had issued a formal report before taking any action, but that she trusted the advice of the panel’s members. “I’ll just say what I’ve said all along: obviously this is a group of very capable people. They are the ... representatives of the campus and I will obviously take their recommendation very seriously,” she said.
While James declined to provide details of what kind of guidance the panel might produce, he said it seemed highly unlikely that they would advise the College to partner with Sodexo, the French corporation with a checkered history that Kenyon originally planned to work with before public outcry forced the College to reconsider and form the MMAP.
“It is my belief that under all circumstances, no matter what the panel says, Sodexo is out,” James told the Collegian.
Still, union members and faculty have sent almost daily all-student and all-employee emails protesting what they see as the administration’s foregone conclusion on outsourcing.
It was in the shadow of one such email that the MMAP met on Wednesday. The message, originally sent by Professor of Sociology George McCarthy, contained an anonymous letter attributed to one of the nine managers whose employment would have been transferred to Sodexo. It purported to describe a meeting between the managers and Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman.
“Most of the nine employees came away from that meeting with the distinct impression that they would definitely be outsourced,” the letter says. “Mr. Kohlman stated that the panel would make a recommendation but, the financial decision would be his and President Nugent’s to make.” The letter also claimed that Kohlman had speculated to the group that staff members within the division of Library and Information Services would see their jobs outsourced next.
In an email sent later to the all-student, all-employee and faculty email lists and later provided to the Collegian, Kohlman disputed much of the account of the meeting contained in the first letter. “At no point did I indicate that the panel had its decision or recommendation,” he wrote. “I did not indicate there were plans to outsource Library and Information Services.”
“I think throughout this process we have seen a number of anonymous postings or sometimes signed postings, which are simply erroneous and are not factual, and I take this to be one of them,” Nugent said of the letter, adding that she didn’t think that this negotiation had been more contentious than past talks with the union.
James agreed that the rhetoric was a part of the process, but said that the different rumors and messages had not affected his panel’s work. “I think when you get into these types of things, it’s almost like a political process, when people start spreading misinformation. And as I’ve said from the start, there’s been a lot of misinformation about the proceedings of the panel,” he said.
As the panel met today, in the Cheever Room in Finn House, union members and community workers protested outside. Asked if she was concerned about such protests occurring at this weekend’s Board of Trustees meeting, Nugent seemed unworried.
“That’s their right,” she said. “They have been protesting every single one of the meetings and they’ve done that in a pretty respectful way.”