A second student has accused MCC counselor Hubert Ross of making unprofessional comments.Ali Sohie, a federal work-study student for the counseling department since last semester, claims that Ross used intimidating comments directed toward him.
He said that accusations made by former MCC student Walt Porter in the April 19 edition of the Legend made him feel responsible to step forward and show that Porter was not alone.
Porter, who had been an editor and had written for the Legend, filed a formal complaint against Ross in October for homophobic remarks.
MCC President Shouan Pan confirmed that Porter’s complaint was filed as sexual harassment. This was unknown to Porter, who thought he filed a general grievance.
He claimed that Ross told him he was all twisted up and that his soul was dead due to his sexuality.
The original story of Porter’s accusation about Ross can be found at mesalegend.com
Sohie said that the incident started when Heather Peters, the administrative secretary for the counseling department, asked Karen Hardin, the department chair, for permission to leave work early.
Sohie said Hardin agreed and after Peters left he was called by Ross who expressed displeasure that Peters was allowed to leave.
“Heather works for the counseling department, not Dr. Hardin,” Sohie claimed Ross said.
According to Sohie, Hardin called him later that day. He said he told Hardin about Ross’s comments and Hardin requested that he hand him the phone.
Sohie said he was not sure what was said between Ross and Hardin.
The next morning, Sohie said Ross wanted to tell him something when he entered the building.
“I said, ‘OK, why don’t you tell me now?’ He said, ‘No, I want to be sure no one is here.’ I said, ‘Trust me, no one is here.’ He didn’t believe me. He checked each room to make sure no one (was) listening to us,” Sohie said.
After checking the department Ross asked Sohie to meet him in his office.
It was during this meeting that Sohie says Ross used intimidating language.
“You don’t know who I am. I’m very powerful. I’ve been on this campus a long time. You don’t know (but) I can be very dangerous,” Sohie claims Ross said.
Sohie said he was confused by Ross’s comments at first but understood what was transpiring when Ross continued to threaten his job security.
“If you want to stay in this department you should act differently. You should do things differently. When I tell you something I don’t want you to tell someone else,” Sohie claims Ross said in reference to what he had told Hardin.
Near the end of the conversation Ross told him, “I don’t want you to share this with anyone. Trust me, I get the news,” Sohie said.
He said that he has never been told by Peters or Hardin that his job performance was unacceptable.
Hardin has not responded to repeated attempts to contact her.
Sohie said that he was intimidated by Ross during the conversation, but it wore off the next day.
“I tried not to think about it. It’s not going to stay with you forever,” he said.
Sohie has yet to file a formal or informal complaint against Ross. He said his faith in Hardin and the department was why he didn’t.
“I didn’t see a reason because Dr. Hardin knows how important it is to take care of her staff,” Sohie said.
He also spoke about similarities between his experience and Porter’s accusations.
“I don’t know what happened between Mr. Ross and the former student, but (in) part of the article the student claimed Mr. Ross denied the allegations. That sounds familiar to me because when I went to his office he told me (he) didn’t say (what I told Hardin he said),” Sohie said.
Ross has not responded to multiple attempts to contact him, but Porter has said he was told by Sonya Pearson, the vice president of student affairs, Ross has denied making derogatory comments.
Porter and Pan confirmed that there has been an investigation into Porter’s accusations against Ross.
Pan also confirmed he expected the findings of the investigation by April 25, but is not willing to release them.
Pan expressed concern about the situation with Ross after being informed by the Legend about the accusations made by Sohie.
“I’m obviously concerned . but that’s (just) his side of the story. It’s an issue that’s worth looking into. We have a lot of administrators and it’s their job is to follow up on these issues,” Pan said.
He and Porter have confirmed that Joni Grover, the dean of student services, and Pearson have been heading the investigation into Ross. Grover and Pearson have refused to comment.
Pan would not answer if he felt that a detailed investigation would have uncovered Sohie’s allegation about Ross, but said that he had full confidence in his staff.
He also put part of the responsibility on Sohie to make his situation known.
“He needs to come forward and make a complaint,” Pan said.
He said that the findings and the results of the investigation would not become public despite MCC being a publicly funded institution. He gave several reasons which included it being a personnel matter, a conversation between a student and counselor, and an internal investigation.
“The public needs to know we follow the district policy (and that) we dealt with the matter. We not only need to take every complaint seriously, (but) we also have obligation to treat employees right,” Pan said.
Sohie said that close to an hour after Pan was informed about his situation Grover contacted him to get a written statement about his experience with Ross.