Fighting the good fight

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The introduction to my blog states:

I’m exploring coolness in life. Join me on this journey and let’s (re)define cool together.

What can I say? It’s been a good fight. And cool has most definitely been redefined. In two words? It’s about family and it’s about relationships.

The UNCG Three

The UNCG Three

For those of you reading this post who know our circle of colleagues dubbed ‘The UNCG Three’ in the media, I could leave it at that and you’d get it.

Many of us have joined David, Lyda and Chris on a path that began without vision or expectation, as we were called to this journey before we understood its meaning and outcomes.

The following is a CliffsNotes version of recent events

Sept. 12 : UNCG notifies former colleagues David, Lyda and Chris they are under investigation for allegedly falsifying time sheets. Their computers are seized and all three are put on paid leave. Many of us from the University Relations department gather in utter disbelief as we try to reason and process what has occurred among us.

Sept. 24: UNCG notifies the three that they are fired.

Sept. 25: The three are served with arrest warrants. The collective summary of the charges? Obtaining “property” by false pretenses (i.e., university time) and aiding and abetting that process.

What ensues in my gut upon hearing that arrest warrants have been issued is something akin to hearing that a loved one has passed.

What? I don’t understand. I don’t think I heard you correctly. I want to be sick. What? Once the news is confirmed, I distinctly recall saying to myself that the madness would end now. The unjustified decisions accompanied by the outlandish actions that had been occurring in the department that I proudly served for 13 years would be brought to light.

What I did not realize at that exact moment was the power of that decision. The power was tripled, as it inherently connected with Andrea and Betsi, two of my previous University Relations colleagues who were thinking the same thing.

Our department story – The UNCG Three story – began to be written and shared

The letter that we sent on Sept. 29 to UNCG leadership shined a spotlight on our collective voices of outrage and injustice for our fellow colleagues and the actions that had been taken by Paul Mason, who had been hired six months prior to head up the department.

Our first goal? For the campus community to begin asking questions about the decisions that were being made by Mason. They were not reflective of how dedicated professionals worked together as a department nor of a collegial university. Our second goal? To ensure the charges would be dropped.

After the story broke on a local blog that evening, media coverage soon followed via the Greensboro News & Record and investigative reporter, Margaret Moffett. Both have been relentless in seeking details and reason, which have been less than forthcoming from the university.

Over the course of the next 30 days, media grew to include the Raleigh News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, The Chronicle for Higher Ed, The Rhino Times, WFDD, WUNC, WXII, WFMY and many other regional papers too numerous to mention. Social media dialogue thrived, as well as comments on the News & Record online.

Several forums were held and it became clear that faculty and staff recognized that something was amiss within the UNCG campus culture. What was going on? How were these decisions being made? And why?

Second set of CliffNotes

Oct. 15: A petition is signed by more than 100 faculty members and delivered to the District Attorney asking for the charges to be dropped.

Oct. 20: The Chancellor resigns. While she assures the public that her decision has nothing to do with this case, her announcement comes in the middle of the debacle, as it is often referred to in the media and within the local community.

Oct. 28: A silent vigil is held on campus. For 22 minutes, 100-plus attendees stand in silence to oppose the 22 felony charges against David, Lyda and Chris.

Supporters gather for 22 minutes of silence to protest the 22 felony charges against former UNCG employees

22 minutes of silence to protest the 22 felony charges against former UNCG employees. Photo Credit: Kevin Scalf

Oct 30: All 22 felony charges are voluntarily dropped by the the District Attorney’s office.

Nov. 2: A party to raise money for their defense fund is held. An anonymous donor gives $800 and challenges attendees to match it, which they do for a grand total of $1,856 raised. (Learn more about the defense fund that was set up or to give online, visit the FundRazr site).

The rest of the story is yet to come

David, Lyda and Chris have filed grievances against UNCG. The grievance process is under way with labor lawyers. However, I stand by my mantra of (re)defining cool. It’s been one heck of a journey fighting the good fight. Sometimes, we are simply called to action to do the right thing and to stand by our family.

Edited by: Betsi Robinson (Thank you my friend!)

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Saundretta Caldwell-James · at

Love. 🙂

Helen Hebert · at

Very proud of my former colleagues and friends, Debbie Schallock, Andrea Crossley Spencer and Betsi Simmons Robinson, who had the courage to say “this isn’t right” and then did something about it. Still in pain for my other colleagues and friends, Lyda Carpen, David Wilson and Chris English, who had to live this nightmare.

Ginna Bennett Staley · at

very cool!

Chad Hartman · at

You go! Keep up the good fight and keep redefining cool. Job well done!

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