I was born and raised in Galveston County and I have lived and worked here my whole life. Two months ago, I retired from my job at College of the Mainland after 26 years. COM used to be a wonderful place to work and a great place to get an education.
When Larry Stanley was president at COM, management, professors and staff were like one big family. We were all in it together. Everyone worked together, took good care of students together and served the community together. Employees received good pay and good benefits, and we had a real voice in making decisions. The community strongly supported COM.
It really hurts my heart to see a great college turn into such an ugly place in the last five years. I have been the vice president of COM-Unity since 2008. I have seen how professors, staff, students and the community have suffered because of the way the COM board of trustees and administration treat them.
Many people have read about all the complaints and lawsuits and bad publicity at COM. But the situation at the college is even worse than nonemployees know. There has been so much mistreatment. In my opinion, more than 25 employees have been wrongfully terminated, and a lot of other people have been wrongfully disciplined.
There is so much fear and intimidation at the college today. The morale of employees is so low. Most employees have not had a pay increase for five years, but top administrators have. And it seems like top administrators now get their jobs because of politics or personal connections.
All this has a trickle-down effect on students. I am out in the community a lot, and I hear directly from a lot of people at church, in the grocery store or in the neighborhoods. Folks are saying that COM does not value its students anymore like it used to. And I hear a lot of folks saying they won’t support COM.
Support and trust for the college in the community are at an all-time low. There is a big disconnect between the COM board and administration and most people in the community. This puts the future of the college at risk.
COM-Unity has kept on helping employees stand up for their rights at the college. But instead of admitting these problems, the COM board of trustees and administration have tried to crush the union and union voices. I strongly believe that COM-Unity President David Michael Smith was fired because he was proactive and effective as a leader in exposing all the wrongdoing at the college.
The poor attendance at recent homecomings shows there is very little support for the college among alumni, retirees, employees and students.
The COM board and president need to work together with COM-Unity, the employees, the students and the community as a whole. If the board and president can’t do that, we will get a board and a president who will do the right thing. Our community can’t afford to lose the college.
Jeanette Slaughter lives in Texas City.