Student group demands reviewed hiring practices at Bellevue College

An activist student group at Bellevue College has taken the administration’s hiring practices to task after claiming an employee’s alleged past could affect student safety.

Bellevue College United, formed in 2016 in the wake of supposed Islamaphobia on campus, has approached the administration regarding the hiring of Michael McGuire, the interim assistant director of public safety.

McGuire resigned from the Tucscon Police Department in Arizona in June 2015 after an internal investigations probed into potential prostitution charges for several officers in the department. A month after resigning, his status was changed to terminated.

For Bellevue College United, a small group without official college support or sanction, McGuire’s presence on campus is one it is uncomfortable with.

“We would not like him to be in the position he is on campus,” said Jahkari Singh, a leader of Bellevue College United as well as the external legislative affairs representative for the Associated Student Government. “We’re not comfortable with someone with his background on campus. There are Running Start students — minors on campus. And we are getting dorms soon. He hasn’t proven that he has changed.”

Singh said he had not spoken to McGuire in person. McGuire did not respond to an email asking for comment.

According to Tucson.com, the media outlet which reported on the prostitution sting, McGuire went to massage parlors while off duty for massages, which sometimes involved sex acts.

According to Ray White, vice president of administrative services, the college followed its normal hiring practices in considering McGuire. Representatives from the college said they could not comment on specific personnel issues.

Aaron Hilliard, vice president of human resources, said that for the public safety, nursing and early childhood education departments, the human resource department does do extra background checks for full-time employees.

“We are looking for the most qualified candidate to hire,” he said. “For public safety we do a Washington state criminal record check.”

He said the college was “a little more lax” in the hiring process for part-time employees. McGuire is a full-time employee.

Singh and other members of Bellevue College United met with Interim President Jill Wakefield last week. And either as a result of that meeting or as an independent effort, hiring practices are under review. A college representative did not answer what date the review began.

Dr. Gayle Barge, the vice president of institutional advancement, said that the student group was aware of that when it sent a press release days later.

“Interim President Wakefield is doing a review of our process. They knew this. They were told this a week ago,” Barge said.

She said it would be unwise to detail exactly what Wakefield was reviewing.

“The review has just started,” Barge said. “And it wouldn’t be appropriate to share what is being broadly looked at, as it might set unfair parameters.”

The Reporter was told Wakefield could not comment.

Singh said the hiring processes for McGuire and for recently-selected President Jerry Weber were not as transparent as they should have been.

“I just want to know where was H.R.? How did you let this happen?” he said.

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