By Floyd Alvin Galloway, Special to the NNPA from the Arizona Informant –
Columbine in Colorado – 1999, Heath High School in Paducah Kentucky - 1997, University of Arizona -2002, Virginia Tech 2007. Far too often violence has erupted on the campuses of too many schools, from grade schools to universities. In most of the cases there were signs that officials and others didn’t take seriously.
Daniesha Flannigan loved her job as a Student Resource Center service coordinator. She loved helping students achieve their academic goals and encouraging them to continue in their pursuit of furthering their careers and education. Working in the position for four years things changed drastically when she was emailed a letter from student Eric Frizzle on December 30, 2010, asking her to proof read the letter for him.
The letter was his request for his membership in the terrorist group, Ku Klux Klan. Frizzell was no ordinary looking student according to Flannigan. “He is in his 40’s or 50’s. He would always dress in black jeans, black shirt, black trench coat, looking like the two involved with the Columbine shootings in Colorado.” Most of the employees were aware of Frizzell and avoided him Flannigan stated, because he gave them an eerie feeling.
In his opening he proclaims, “Here we go-yehaa!” In the letter Frizzell states, “I would not only like to become the Klan historian, but I am also striving for life membership in the Klan; and I am fully aware of the commitments that are required of me, here.”
He goes on to say, “I didn’t rejoin The Knights only to set around letting my mouth overload my ass.” The Knights he is referring to is the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society The primary economic and political goal of this organization was to create a prosperous, slave-holding Southern Empire extending in the shape of a circle from their proposed capital at Havana, Cuba, through the southern states of the United States, Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
Flannigan immediately reported the letter to her supervisors, the same day. The only African American in her location, she was concerned with her safety. Flannigan felt the student was trying to send her an intimidating message. The response from her supervisors and company officials were not what she had hoped for.
A month after receiving the letter and voicing her concerns with officials the student was still seen on campus. This is the same student that had previously been banned from one of the other campuses Flannigan later learned. But was not aware of the reason why, but knew it had to be critical.
Flannigan’s co-workers would give her signals when they would see Frizzell. When Frizzell was given a letter of reprimand he made it a point to give his letter of appeal to Flannigan, which let her know that he knew she was the one the filed the complaint. “The student was allowed to continue to come to the campus and give me his letter of appeal in regards to the incident and complete his course. No one of authority wanted to address the student, but I still had to have contact with him when he was well aware of the complaint that I made against him. I don’t think that was putting my safety first,” Flannigan stated in an email she sent to Flora Dominquez, Apollo Group Inc., Human Resources.
In February 2011, Flannigan filed for Family Medical Leave of Absence and in May requested an extension. Noting the stress from that situation has greatly affected her life. Flannigan was also a student at the University of Phoenix, ten credits short of her degree. Now she doesn’t know how or when she will be able to finish. The unemployed Flannigan now says the school is calling her for payment for the 10 credits she is was not able to finish.
The situation was so stressful that it began affecting not only her work life, but also her home life. Instead of supporting Flannigan they began to question her. Urging her to get her emotions together, school offered to change her work schedule, which would not suppress her concerns but put her in more danger she felt. She began to seek professional help from a therapist. According to Flannigan she was diagnosed with post traumatic syndrome.
The university’s handling of the issue outraged Rev. Oscar Tillman, president of Maricopa County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Ms. Flannigan came to us when she was not getting any satisfaction from the school. When she came to us they started to come after her and made her feel like she was the person causing trouble.”
Rev. Tillman noted in trying to reach the president of Apollo group to discuss the matter he was unsuccessful and was given the run around by others. “We are here to work with people. The NAACP is a place for people to turn to. In many cases when they do they become targeted by the company officials.”
This is not the first racial incident the educational group has been called on. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Ohio chapter filed a complaint with the school on several issues a couple of years ago. The hiring and promotion of African Americans have also been complaint for years Rev. Tillman noted.
Dominique Brown, Apollo’s corporate diversity officer, who has only been with the company for five months, admits there probably were some things that could have been handled differently in Flannigan’s case. “She probably felt there was no one to turn to.” Brown said that is one the reasons she is in the position that had been vacant for some time before her. School would not release statistical information on African American employees.
Mario Middleton, Apollo’s national director for African American Affairs noted that the group is working with several groups on the national level to assist in its diversity issues. The company is lacking in African Americans in executive decision-making positions and faculty positions.
“We understand we have a lot of African American students. We are trying to make changes. One of the changes is launching of our school’s diversity initiative, which is in recruiting and maintaining minority employees. We know it is a work in progress. We are committed to development and engagement," said Brown. "Take a look at us in few months,” Brown noted she is willing to talk with Rev. Tillman to find a solution to Flannigan’s situation. Flannigan states she hopes no one else in the future has to experience hostile environment she experienced.