December 2, 2005
An upset former faculty member of the University of Virginia had her supporters chanting this afternoon. The protestors insisted she was unfairly fired.
The controversy involves a 17-year employee of the University's Human Resources Department. Dena Bowers on October 11th, but she feels that what the pink slip said is not the real reason she was fired.
Almost two months ago, a University of Virginia employee was fired. Bowers said she was wrongly terminated, so the Staff Union at the University held a rally outside of Madison Hall.
"Because of legalities, her lawyers advise, [Dena] cannot speak today," said Wilson McIvor.
So instead, one by one, Bowers family, friends, and even faculty at the University stood up to speak their mind about why they think the University made such a harsh decision.
"Despite what the university says Dena Bowers firing was an abuse of administrative power," said Jeffery Rossman, a UVA Professor.
"It's quite obviously not only retaliation but also an attempt to monitor an suppress criticism of University policy," said Susan Fraiman, a UVA faculty member.
"Shame on you!" chanted the entire crowd.
According to the University, Bowers, who is an NAACP member, was fired for sending an email to another member using her University title. At least one person who received the email thought it was an official University message.
Bowers feels she was really fired for the negative information she wrote within the email about the charter - something the University is desperate to get.
"Do you really think that if Dena had sent out a recipe for cake in an email that we'd be talking about a termination today?" asked Richard Verlander, of Communication Workers of America.
"I think that is true. I think it is the intent and how it was sent to almost 300 University employees," said Carol Wood, a UVA spokesperson.
Although Bowers held a rally to protest her freedom of speech - the University said she was not terminated for that.
"Anybody who would think the University would dismiss an employee simply for voicing their opinion is pretty naive," said Wood.
Bowers ultimately wants her job back. She said she has an attorney and she thinks she will be vindicated.
The University says employee terminations are rare, and only happen in the case of serious offenses.