MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A student employee of WVU’s college radio station said Friday the harassment allegations against the station’s general manager, Matthew Fouty, are best represented by a string of comments and actions — rather than any particular isolated incident.
“It’s nothing grandiose. It’s all little things like jokes that just kind of crossed the line, comments that have been weird or asking someone out one too many times after they’ve already told you ‘no,'” said Jackson Montgomery, a WVU student and member of U92’s music department. “Stuff like that from just a whole bunch of different people that when you look at it as a big picture, you see that it’s become a pattern of abusive, harassing behavior.”
Though Fouty’s alleged harassment has not been targeted toward Montgomery personally, Montgomery said he has seen how Fouty’s behavior and personality have affected the atmosphere at the station.
“I would 100 percent say that morale has greatly declined amongst the station since Matt’s worked there,” he said. “We just haven’t been able to motivate any of the staff, and now with the harassment, people feel too creeped out to even come into the station.”
Fouty could not be reached for comment on this matter.
In addition to the alleged harassment, Montgomery said staff have expressed issues with Fouty’s leadership of the station as a whole. Two different program directors, he said, have quit since Fouty took the position of general manager in spring 2015 because of perceived mismanagement.
“There’s all sorts of organizational issues and things that should have been getting done that weren’t that we felt should have been Matt’s responsibility that he just didn’t ever do,” he said.
Students of U92 have met with university officials earlier this week in an attempt to resolve the issues, but Montgomery said this wasn’t new information to the administration.
“We expressed our concerns to the university back in June, and a Title IX report was filed on our behalf,” he said. “It was myself and four of our other directors at the time who met with Adell Crowe, the director of student media who is above U92 and the Daily Athenaeum. We voiced our concerns to her and she said that based on what we told her in that meeting concerning sexual harassment report, she would have to file a Title IX report.”
In compliance with Crowe’s suggestion, Montgomery and the other four directors, as well as other student members of U92, sent in letters to the Title IX office.
“Sometime this semester, a couple people had heard back, but myself, personally, I never received any response to my original email to the office,” Montgomery said. “Not even a confirmation that it was received or anything, so we’ve been going this whole semester without really knowing what’s going on with that case.”
Crowe was unable to be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
As policy, WVU does not comment on any active Title IX investigations or even confirm their existence. Rob Alsop, WVU’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, said the Title IX office is well-equipped to handle any investigation.
“We’ve actually doubled the number of investigators,” he said Friday on “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval. “We have dramatically increased the amount of training that goes on. So, when a Title IX complain comes in, it comes into one of these train investigators and is evaluated and appropriate steps are taken.”
Alsop also said that the matters that prompted Thursday’s student protest is “going through the appropriate evaluation.” Montgomery is concerned though, as a complainant, that he received no response from Title IX.
“We really don’t know the report ever got there,” he said.
Additionally, Montgomery believed that staff leadership had come to an agreement with Crowe that would change Fouty’s job description and how he interacted with students. This agreement, he said, did not end up materializing. It remains unclear what changed though. When it did, students met with Dean of Students Corey Farris Wednesday night. One day later, as many as 50 members of U92’s staff were protesting through radio silence — dead air during the drive to work shift.
“We are trying to work with the university,” Montgomery said. “It’s not as if we’ve completely disregarded them and resorted to this job action, but everybody was so fed up with what felt like us being ignored after, what is it, six months since June now?”
Now, staff members are compiling accounts of first-hand experiences in their interactions with Matthew Fouty that they claim will show proof.
“Hopefully the university and people will see that it’s not just some little thing, and it’s not just a small handful of people that are upset with him, but that is actually is some sort of systemic issue with him as a person,” Montgomery said. “I guess ultimately once we publish that, we were hoping that it accelerates the Title IX investigation and either Matt steps down or is removed by the university.”
Montgomery said they would release their full compilation of allegations as soon as possible.