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Dear Community Members:
The purpose of this communication is, first, to provide information about an incident that allegedly occurred at the Independent Media Center where one of our staff members was arrested and charged with criminal sexual assault and, second, to assure all users of the IMC (renters, volunteers, participants in meeting and events scheduled there, and others) that our Board and staff are undertaking actions to guarantee your health and safety. The IMC has long been and will continue to be a safe and welcoming place.
One year ago the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center underwent a major reorganization, reforming both its governance documents and its institutional structures and processes. At that time, the membership voted to strengthen the role of the Board of Directors, and ten largely new board members were elected. Our officers are Gary Storm (President), Deloris Henry (Vice-President), David Green (Secretary), and Durl Kruse (Treasurer). Other board members include Danielle Chynoweth, Ricardo Diaz, Belden Fields, Martel Miller, Chris Ritzo, and Ken Salo. The Board established five (5) standing committees, all chaired by Board members: Finance, Personnel, Building/Facilities, Fund Raising, and Programming. These committees include and are open to IMC members.
Our Board supervises a half-time bookkeeper and the IMC’s only full-time staff member, Carol Ammons, who serves the AmeriCorps Supervisor and the IMC’s Operations Manager. Carol supervised eight (8) AmeriCorps volunteers working both inside and outside the IMC. The IMC AmeriCorps volunteers took responsibility for coordinating events housed at the IMC, conducting community outreach, managing the building/facilities, and implementing the award-winning Book-to-Prisoners project.
The new organizational structure and the people making it function—staff, Board members, and volunteers—had a highly productive year in 2012. Fiscal, administrative, and personnel policies and procedures were developed and/or clarified, and new program initiatives were undertaken. Highlights of the year included hosting the national Grassroots Radio Conference, becoming an anchor for the new community broadband network (UC2B), and establishing a new tower for the WRFU radio station that will expand its range significantly.
As you may have read in the News Gazette, in September our building coordinator was charged with sexual assault for alleged behavior at the IMC. Right after the incident, the Board informed all IMC renters and working groups about the incident. The accused remains in jail. We are currently examining our own policies and practices with the goal of making any changes required to ensure safety inside the building and on the grounds surrounding it.
Several Board members are currently engaged in this process and plan to propose, at the November Board meeting, an ombudsperson committee composed of at least two Board members to which renters and others using the IMC can register concerns or make recommendations. We are also reviewing our personnel policies and practices to see where problems might exist and how they can be avoided and/or dealt with in the future. Lock policies, lighting, and movement within the IMC are also being reviewed.
We invite any and all who may have concerns about this incident, suggestions for safety and communication, or other matters pertaining to the IMC to participate in any of our monthly board meetings, which are typically held at the IMC on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. This month, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, our next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 13, at 6pm at the IMC. You are also invited to attend our annual General Membership Meeting that is scheduled at the IMC on Sunday, November 18, at 2:00 p.m.
In closing, let those of us on the Board also extend an invitation to any of you to meet with us personally. We are all eager to receive and evaluate any suggestions people have to protect the health and safety of everyone affiliated with or using the resources of the IMC. Thank you.
The UCIMC Board of Directors: Danielle Chynoweth, Ricardo Diaz, Belden Fields, David Green, Deloris Henry, Durl Kruse, Martel Miller, Chris Ritzo, Ken Salo, and Gary Storm.
[This statement was orginally released on Nov. 9, 2012]