Abrupt removal of LGBT Center director bautista sparks protests

Ohio University has removed delfin bautista as director of the LGBT Center on campus.

The decision led to protests Friday in and around Cutler Hall where the office of OU President M. Duane Nellis is located. Dozens of students, faculty and alumni gathered to express anger and dismay at the decision, which came abruptly on Thursday and was first reported by WOUB News.

A dozen or so protestors briefly entered Cutler Hall to speak out against bautista’s removal, but were swiftly threatened with arrest by Ohio University police officers and were escorted out of the building.

At the protest, employees of the LGBT Center described the latest news as part of the university’s efforts to "suppress" the resources provided to OU students.

Nellis said Friday he did not know much about bautista’s removal, adding that the decision was made by Gigi Secuban, who is the university’s vice president for diversity and inclusion. Nellis hired Secuban to that position last May.

In that role, Secuban leads OU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which oversees on-campus entities like the LGBT Center, Multicultural Center and Women’s Center.

The Center will be without a director as students return to class Monday for the 2019 Spring Semester. Nellis said OU intends to conduct a "national search" this year to hire a new director; a search for an associate director had reportedly begun in 2018 and is still ongoing. The president also said there are plans to provide additional resources for the Center later in 2019.

The Messenger will provide further reporting on bautista’s removal and Friday’s demonstration in the upcoming Sunday Athens Messenger newspaper on Jan. 13.