A former employee of a national honor society with its national office at TCU claims in an online petition that she was unfairly fired in April and criticizes TCU’s policies on handling sexual assault.
Robyn Shepheard, former coordinator of Alpha Epsilon Delta’s national office, said in a change.org petition that she was unfairly fired when AED terminated her on grounds of insubordination.
The petition was started on May 22 by Shepheard’s daughter, Hillary, who is TCU’s student body vice president for external affairs. At the time of this publication, it has 9,586 supporters.
Robyn Shepheard, a TCU alumna, was previously employed by TCU in the College of Communications and College of Education before taking her position in AED. The university said in a statement that Shepheard was only an employee of AED at the time of her firing.
AED acknowledged Shepheard’s firing but gave no cause in a statement emailed to TCU 360 on Friday.
“Robyn Shepheard's employment with AED was terminated effective April 1, 2013,” AED president Cindy Stanfield wrote. “The AED Board was aware of and unanimously approved the termination for reasons that the Board considered entirely valid.”
The firing came after Shepheard, who was sexually assaulted in 1989, asked for a leave of absence to prepare herself and her family for the pending civil commitment hearing for the release of her convicted assailant.
Shepheard said in the petition that she was discriminated against because of the emotional state she was in when she asked for her leave of absence.
Shepheard, in an email she provided to TCU 360, asked Shari Barnes, TCU’s compliance officer for the Americans with Disabilities Act, for specific considerations to be put into place on campus for her safety in the event of her assailant’s possible release. Shepheard said she asked for a service dog to be with her at all times, for the closest available parking space to her work and for a letter banning her assailant from campus.
Barnes said in a separate email provided to TCU 360 by Shepheard that some of the things that the university would be willing to consider would be the installation of a peephole, panic button and/or intercom in the AED office, the purchase of an air horn or other audio warning device and a TCU police escort from the parking lot to the office.
Shepheard said she filed a discrimination charge against the university on April 22, claiming that Stanfield, the AED president, said it was too expensive to accommodate her requests.
Shepheard is asking in the petition that TCU create the position of rape crisis leader for her in an effort to help anyone at TCU who has been sexually assaulted.
Shepheard says in the petition that TCU does not currently have anyone in place to help students that have been sexually assaulted, but TCU says that it already has several programs in place to deal with this issue, such as Need to Know and Rape Aggression Defense classes.
Shepheard said in the petition that she attended a mediation meeting with her lawyer, Shari Barnes and a TCU attorney, and AED and its attorney, but that no agreeable outcome could be reached. Barnes said in an email Friday that she signed a confidentiality agreement that keeps her from discussing anything that relates to the mediation process.
Shepheard said in an interview that she “believed” she worked for both AED and TCU at the same time.
“I have worked for the department of AED,” Shepheard said. “I call it a department because I believe I worked for TCU for two years.”
Shepheard’s pay stub for the month of April, provided by her to TCU 360, bears a TCU logo, but the payment was supplied by AED, according to TCU director of communications Lisa Albert. AED is in an agreement with TCU in which AED supplies the money for paychecks and TCU processes the requests, Albert wrote in an email.
At the time of her request for leave, Shepheard said she was asked by AED to return all InDesign files she had used in creating the Scalpel, AED’s biannual newsletter. Shepheard said that she sent everything that belonged to AED but kept certain parts of those files since she created them on her own time and with her own money.
“I sent them every single piece of information that was sent to me to do the magazine,” Shepheard said. “What I did not send were my fonts, my GIFs, my personal JPEGs, my graphics- the things that I had done outside of work prior to even having that job or that I had purchased outside of the job.”
Shepheard said that she would have given all of the information to AED had she known how it would be used and who would get credit for it.