“Why, we asked, would a woman who so positively contributed to the lives of the Trinity community seem to have suddenly disappeared from campus? Better yet, how?”
These questions were posed by juniors Simone Washington and Ryann Williams in their opinion column, “Questioning Stacy Davidson’s departure,” that was published in the Sept. 28 issue of the Trinitonian.
Over the summer, Stacy Davidson left abruptly from her position as director of Academic Support and volunteer advisor of the Black Student Union (BSU).
“A lot of [BSU members] were in the middle of planning stages with her for next semester and it just really didn’t make sense to us that she would just leave and not give anybody any type of indication,” said Khaniya Russell, senior and president of BSU.
But, Davidson assured that she did not want to leave without notice.
“I want there to be honesty and transparency, because it makes me look like I just up and left. I would never do that,” Davidson said. “It’s not fair to you all.”
According to Davidson, she was fired on the spot at the end of the day on Monday, June 11. She had gone into a meeting with Sheryl Tynes, vice president for Student Life, and Pamela Johnston, assistant vice president for Human Resources, and left without a job.
“I sat down, and [Tynes] said to me, ‘You are being terminated effective immediately because your performance has not improved.’ Those were her exact words: your performance has not improved. So it was immediate. My email was already cut off, I had to turn in my keys, my ID, my purchasing card, and basically that was it,” Davidson said.
Davidson also said that she was not given a period in which to improve her performance.
“I poured everything I am and everything I have into that job and into Trinity and into my work and into my students,” Davidson said. “Everything that I had, I gave of myself. So when you give willingly and enthusiastically of yourself, that’s not the outcome you expect.”
Texas is an “employment-at-will state,” which means that unless the contract of employment contains alternative language, an employer can terminate an employee at any time without warning or cause.
“I think it’s important to know that I didn’t do anything wrong. I violated no university policy. There was no moral or ethical lapse. I didn’t do anything wrong,” Davidson said.
When asked to comment on Davidson’s version of events, Tynes provided only the following statement over email:
“Much like we would never share details of a student’s educational records which are confidential, employment records are in a similar privacy category. With regard to how Trinity assesses people’s work here, there are annual review processes for all employees, and job descriptions provide the framework for review. Most of us have labors of love (which are not specifically included in our job descriptions), like volunteering to serve as an advisor to a student organization; we would not be assessed for such voluntary work.”
The university’s handling of the situation has been a complaint among students, especially those closest to Davidson. When Russell asked officials about Davidson’s departure, she faced closed doors.
“It felt very much to me like they were telling black students [that] we needed to stay in our lane and not ask questions of things that they weren’t going to explicitly tell us on our own,” Russell said. “I in no way speak for every black student on this campus, but I think I echo a lot of the sentiments of some of my friends who are black students on this campus that there’s been a huge gap in the showing of support from [the] administration to black students on this campus in particular.”
While Davidson was allegedly fired due to a lack of improved performance, she left a mark during her three years on campus. Davidson was integral in last year’s opening of the Tiger Learning Commons (TLC).
“I named the [TLC], right? Picked out the furniture, picked out the paint, designed it and created something that didn’t exist before. And it’s going on without me. This year was going to be the implementation of the QEP [Starting Strong Quality Enhancement Plan], really getting our feet on the ground on what the TLC can actually do, and I’m not there to participate in that or to lead that,” Davidson said.
Davidson is now the director of Career Services and an integrative coach at Dominican University in California. While Davidson said California is beautiful, she misses the relationships she built with Trinity students, faculty and staff.
“I miss walking into the TLC and being hugged by my student workers. I miss students randomly coming by to just say hi or to share a success that they had as a result of our working together. I miss the Black Student Union vehemently and watching them grow as leaders and seeing their successes. And just the relationships. Working together to build a sense of community on campus that matters a great deal to their experience. I miss the relationships with faculty and staff that I grew close to, that really just allowed me to be who I am, because I was embraced by so many people,” Davidson said.
Davidson also regrets the lack of closure she was able to give students.
“Part of me wanted to write a letter to the editor about how I’m sorry that it ended this way,” Davidson said. “[Because] it’s not just the BSU. They knew. We’ve talked. But for students who I worked with in the spring, who said, ‘Can we work together in the fall?’ Not necessarily my closest students, but my students who I’d established a relationship and who had had the success we were looking for.”
Davidson left students with some advice.
“One of the things that I always tell students that I work with is to listen to that voice and to be kind to yourself, not to be so hard on yourself and to take joy in the small victories. I would always say, ‘Walk in your truth.’ Know who you are, be who you are and just walk in your truth. And that’s what I want students to always remember, to be true to themselves because that’s where they will find the greatest reward and the greatest joy,” Davidson said.
Davidson assured that she still values her time at Trinity.
“I have no ill will towards Trinity,” Davidson said. “I will love and honor my experience there and the university and the people I worked with and the students. I can’t let one situation tank the work I did and the relationships I had. There’s no bitterness towards Trinity at all. Was it unfair and unjust? Absolutely. Absolutely. My position on that will never change.”
with additional reporting by Noelle Barrera