An apparent employee dispute went public Sept. 10 when an e-mail message with personnel accusations and nude photographs was sent to high-level university officials and students from the Daily Sundial editorial staff.
The e-mail was sent to CSUN President Jolene Koester, Provost Harold Hellenbrand, Vice President for Student Affairs Terry Piper, and University Corporation Executive Director Tom McCarron, among others.
The message detailed personal e-mail communication between staff members of CSUN Information Technology Resources, including conduct that could be considered unprofessional under the California Education Code.
The alleged sender of the e-mail, an ITR systems administrator, sent the message from a non-CSUN personal e-mail account. The subject line of the e-mail reads “Inappropriate conduct, Intimidation, Harassment, Retaliation on CSUN Campus.”
Steven Fitzgerald, chief technology officer at ITR, and John Chandler, CSUN spokesperson, said they believe the purpose of the Sept. 10 e-mail was to alert officials that the system administrator’s manager could be involved in inappropriate behavior.
The e-mail the system administrator sent out included dozens of other e-mails that the system administrator allegedly received over the last three years from the individual’s manager.
Calls and e-mails to the system administrator and the manager were not returned.
Human Resources and ITR confirmed a specific history between the manager and the systems administrator that was likely associated with this weekend’s e-mail.
“There (have) been ongoing HR-related issues (with these individuals),” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve been trying to handle it with the right process.”
The alleged e-mails include adult material, as well as personal and work-related communication between the system administrator and the manager over the last three years. The right side of the e-mail included commentaries by the system administrator in response to the e-mail messages, and what he defined as “Abusive Insulting E-mails.”
For example, an alleged e-mail from the manager to the system administrator dated Jan. 3, 2003, depicts a sexual act. Many of the other e-mails, which date back to 2002, detail alleged communications that the manager sent to the system administrator on a variety of work-related issues. The system administrator includes a comment next to each message detailing concern with its tone and content.
The alleged communication from the manager is now under review by Human Resources, which will determine whether it constituted inappropriate behavior on the campus network, Chandler said. He also said HR was not reviewing the system administrator’s Sept. 10 e-mail for its content other than how it related to the manager’s alleged behavior.
The beginning of the Sept. 10 e-mail includes a section of the California Education Code specifically dealing with the dismissal, demotion or suspension of a permanent or probationary employee of the university.
Included among the causes for one of these three actions are immoral conduct, unprofessional conduct, dishonesty and failure or refusal to perform the normal and reasonable duties of the position.
On Sept. 12, Bob Foldesi, assistant vice president of HR, sent an e-mail to all recipients of the Sept.10 message notifying them of the university’s course of action.
“The university considers this to be an unacceptable use of the campus computer network and e-mail system,” he wrote. Foldesi then apologized to original recipients for their having gotten the e-mail.
“Be assured that the university takes this matter very seriously,” Foldesi wrote, “and we have engaged a process to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary action, as warranted.” Foldesi instructs the reader to delete the Sept. 10 e-mail. He said he personally became aware of the message when he opened it in his own inbox.
According to a university policy, the “use of computers, networks, and computing facilities for activities other than academic purposes or university business is not permitted, except insofar as such use is of an incidental, personal nature and does not place a burdensome load on resources.”
According to Chandler, the system administrator and manager are still employed by the university.
Ryan Denham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.