UT administrator placed on leave over TFP columnWritten by Justin R. Kalmes | | email@example.com
A UT administrator has been placed on paid leave for opinions she expressed in a column posted on Toledo Free Press’ Web site last month.
As first reported on WTOL-TV, Crystal Dixon, associate vice president of human resources, wrote in her column posted on the newspaper’s Web site April 18, “As a Black woman … I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims.’ Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a black woman … Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few.”
Dixon wrote her column in response to an April 6 opinion piece written by Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller in which he mentioned UT’s policy of offering domestic-partner benefits to university employees but not to those of the former Medical University of Ohio when the institutions merged in 2006.
A UT spokesman confirmed Dixon has been put on paid leave, but said and any further comment regarding an ongoing personnel matter would be inappropriate.
Dixon could not be reached for comment. An automatic reply from her UT e-mail address said she would be out of the office for the next few weeks.
UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs repudiated Dixon’s opinions in a column he wrote for the May 4 edition of Toledo Free Press, saying, “ … Her comments do not accord with the values of the University of Toledo.”
Jacobs said in the column he has written a letter to Ohio legislators to support the passing of initiatives that would extend rights and privileges to domestic partners. He said the university would be taking action to align its policies with its own value system, which places “value upon persons of every variety.”
Miller said he strongly disagreed with Dixon’s comments, but defends her right to say them.
“The university operates in an atmosphere of idea exchange, and while I recognize the institution’s desire to distance itself from her, I am disappointed she has been punished for expressing her views,” he said.
Kim Welter, program manager for education and outreach for Equality Ohio, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens, said in a statement, “I respect everyone’s individual religious beliefs; however, this is an issue in the public sphere which involves law abiding, tax-paying citizens of this state, who often experience life as second-class citizens. It is unfortunate that someone who works in Human Resources for the University of Toledo would publicly express beliefs more appropriate for her place of worship.”
Robert Salem, a UT clinical professor of law who serves on the Equality Toledo board, said Dixon could not effectively perform her job duties at the university now that she has publicly expressed discriminatory opinions. Salem, who is gay, said he was not speaking on behalf of the university.
“Obviously she has a right to her religious views and she has a right to freedom of speech, but the university has the right to have someone in that position that is going to comply with the university’s diversity policy,” Salem said.
Because Dixon is considered a staff member at UT, Salem said, she is not entitled to the same academic freedom principles granted to the university’s faculty.
Salem said he hopes the university takes the “appropriate measures” in handling the incident, though he could not say what those would be. He said he was satisfied with Jacobs’ written response to Dixon’s column.
“I think Dr. Jacobs has been an incredible supporter of all different constituencies on campus. I trust he’ll do the right thing,” Salem said.
The university’s media relations policy does not contain language addressing whether UT faculty and staff may submit opinion pieces to the media.
“University of Toledo employees can — and frequently do — speak with the media, except in cases where their statements or writings interfere with their ability to do their jobs,” Jacobs said in a statement.
Crystal Dixon reaction letters posted online
More than 300 letters to the editor addressing the Crystal Dixon controversy have been received.The full versions of many of these letters are posted this week in the Opinion section of www.toledofreepress.com.