Campus questions staff firing

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A thick stack of papers, which outlined

the three-step process in firing Miguel Cervantes

from B-street Permaculture Project sat

on Professor Deke Gundersen’s desk.

“I can tell you what I know and what

Miguel has told me,” said Gundersen. He

made sure to emphasize that anything he’s

quoted saying in this article is a reflection of

his opinion and in no way associated with

Pacific University.

First things to know: Cervantes has

been with Pacific University for at least 25

years. He worked on facilities and worked

on B-Street for the last five years. He was

responsible for the two acres of land that

makes up B-Street, which is also owned

by Metro. Pacific University’s Human

Resources department had been working

with Cervantes prior to him being fired.

Cervantes was fired on Sept. 16, without a

two-week notice.

Despite the efforts Human Resources

made with Cervantes, many think something

doesn’t add up.

“In my mind, it’s like you’ve committed

murder,” said Gundersen. He explained that

Cervantes is now living paycheck to paycheck

and as a minority without a college degree, his

career options are limited.

The first official step toward Cervantes

being fired was a formal meeting. Gundersen

understood that the meeting was regarding

Cervantes’s timeliness. He was told he must

clock in and out at Pacific’s campus instead of

going straight to B-street. He was also told to

remove the drums he had on site and that he

or anyone else could not be on the site during

unscheduled hours.

“Miguel was one of the few who encouraged

students to come out and actually enjoy

the land,” said Gundersen.

“He took it upon himself

to build a flood wall, which

without, B-Street wouldn’t be.

He worked extra on his own

time. Overall, he probably put

more hours in that place than is


Gundersen recalled asking

Cervantes for help when

he was teaching a class on

B-Street, but Cervantes was

rushed and said he couldn’t explain

to Gundersen because he

needed to drive back to Pacific

and clock out in time.

The second step was a

list of issues noted by Harold

Roark, Director of Facilities.

The list included more than 15

things Cervantes needed to fix.

Examples included trash on the

floor and piles of rocks in disarray.

The list states, “wood not

stacked,” and later down the

list claims, “unstacked wood.”

“To me the list looked

like someone went to see what

they could find wrong,” said

Gundersen. “He had to deal

with Metro coming in and

cutting down a tree and telling

him to deal with it. He

had Pacific on him and then

students coming in and not

cleaning up after themselves.

He was one man taking care

of two acres.”

The third step was photos

of the rocks and woodchips

and other issues stated before

with comments below them

written by art professor Terry

O’Day, such as “Miguel has no

sense of tidy.”

O’Day, Roark, Director

of the School of Social Sciences,

Sarah Philips and Director

Center for Civic Engagement,

Stephanie Stokamer signed

the packet that sent Cervantes

off B-Street and restricted him

from completing his degree.

Since he was an employee Cervantes

didn’t have to pay full

tuition and was a few semesters

away from a degree.

“I feel like this is the

wrong way to have handled

the situation,” said junior

Brian Mejia, a student who

created the Miguel Support

Facebook Page. “So far it’s a

lot of people asking what happened.”

The page currently

has 88 members.

In addition, Gundersen

said that at least 20 faculty

members are upset with the decision,

but haven’t voiced their


When the environmental

science department ran BStreet,

Gundersen said they

dealt with similar issues of tidiness.

“We saw cleanliness as a

minor thing,” he said. “We can

talk through this.”

Currently, Cervantes is

unemployed, and Gundersen

said he fears the firing has left

Cervantes depressed.

“If people would like to

help, they should write the

people who made the decisions

around here,” said Mejia.

A group of faculty members

are meeting with President

Lesley Hallick soon to discuss

the possibility of waiving Cervantes’s

tuition so he can finish

his degree.

“We want to urge that this

is the least that can be done for

Miguel,” said Mejia.

Director of Human Resources

Troy Strass said Pacific

remains confidential about details

of firings.

“I can assure you Miguel

Cervantes’ separation from

employment does not reflect

poorly of his character or his

integrity,” said Strass. “It is always

unfortunate and in this

case particularly sad when the

needs of the university and the

preferences of the employee are

not in alignment.” He noted that Cervantes provided Pacific with many years of dedicated service and if he sought re-employment with Pacific, he would remain eligible to apply for any positions as long as he met the qualifications.


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