MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A former general manager of U92 is stepping in as interim general manager while the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Matthew Fouty continues.
Moments before students of U92 held a press conference on the Mountainlair green Monday afternoon, WVU announced that Kim Harrison is assuming the duties of interim general manager of U92, effective immediately.
“While the investigation is pending, the current general manager will not be reporting to work on campus and the University has reinforced interim measures to limit contact between the general manager and students during the investigation,” the release said.
The University has hired outside legal counsel to assist with the review of the facts of this case, quickly and thoroughly, to finalize the investigation.
“It just feels like it’s been a long time coming,” U92 alum Jackson Montgomery said after Monday’s press conference. “It’s been something like 150 days, so it’s kind of a relief to know that somebody is looking at it.”
Montgomery feels optimistic that Harrison’s leadership will help U92 get back on track.
“It’ll go a long way in helping students feel comfortable coming back into the station, not having Matt around. Students were weary of his presence. They felt like he was almost spying on them whenever he was around, trying to eavesdrop and just making things very uncomfortable for the people around him.”
However, Montgomery said that U92 staff members will continue their strike until at least the beginning of spring semester in January.
“I’m hoping that we can start off on the right foot, get everybody back on air, try to get things coordinated again at U92, get communication between staff back together and kind of get things back to where we were two years ago coming off of the CMJ win,” he said. “I feel like we were really in a good spot then. I feel like we were prepared to start doing bigger and better things, but I feel like it’s kind of gone downhill from that. I think with new leadership we could possibly get back there and reinstate some of the plans that we had back then.”
As more information comes to light, many current and former U92 employees feel disheartened over the controversy that now surrounds the student-run radio station.
Liam Glass, a junior in his second semester with U92 as a DJ and sportscaster, said he is “pretty baffled” at everything that’s unfolded.
“I stand with everyone here,” Glass said. “I respect almost all of my coworkers here. They’re all remarkable people and they’ve done a lot of great work for this station, and to see that being disrespected and to see them being hosted in an unsafe environment on our own campus and at our station really disgusts me. I just can’t stand to see new freshmen coming into an environment like the one that we have right now.”
Though Glass has not personally witnessed harassment from Fouty in the workplace, he was shocked to hear his peers share their experiences.
“I’m disgusted,” he said. “I can’t believe a superior, an adult who is out of college, would come around on campus working an on-campus job saying things like he has said. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe the university has kept someone like that around.”
Glass feels the university’s actions in this situation go against the missions it promote through groups like Adventure West Virginia, which he’s also a part of.
“We like to promote the safe spaces that our school offers and that you have a voice no matter where you are, and it sounds like here our voice has been muffled for months at a time, and I think that’s remarkably unfair to the students,” he said.
Amanda Hurley said this situation has renewed a fear for other women, not only within the station but across WVU’s campus.
“I feel genuinely afraid for women that are looking to find a fun, safe community to express themselves within, leaving home maybe for the first time and not realizing that their naivety could lead them into a very dangerous situation with an adult man,” Hurley said. “For someone that has dealt with this separately in my own private situation, I’m genuinely terrified for young women.
“And to me, that’s very disturbing because I believe that a general manager should ensure safety among their employees, and Matt failed to do that,” she said.
Hurley joined U92’s staff in the fall 2016, but despite her work on air as a DJ, Fouty did not know who she was until spring of the following year.
“As an employee that’s been there for over three semesters now, I think it’s funny that he is suddenly having interest in training new staffers that are coming on board when he never even made an effort to learn my name or who I was, despite the fact that I put dozens and dozens of hours into this radio station,” she said.
As the investigation continues without any resolve, Hurley feels immensely disappointed in the university.
“They failed us. They have known about this for over 150 days, and it has taken them 157 days to actually respond to some of our emails,” she said. “It’s gross misconduct. If they know that their students are experiencing any sort of sexual harassment and it takes them 157 days to respond to an email, I think there is a job that is not being done.”
U92 News Director Melanie Smith, who has been a victim of Fouty’s alleged harassment, said she is angry about how WVU has reacted to the claims.
“I’ve been a resident assistant; I’ve worked for admissions for four years; I was been in SGA. I’ve given so much to this university for them to kind of act like, ‘We know this is happening. Carry on,'” Smith said. “That’s kind of a stab in the back.”
While Smith is optimistic of what Harrison’s leadership will do for morale at the station, she said more needs to be done.
“I think it’s just kind of their temporary fix, and we’re sick of temporary fixes,” she said.
Having worked her way up to news director during her time with U92, Smith is heartbroken to see these events occur within the station.
“The years and years of a base and a foundation that we have built is slowly falling apart,” she said. “That’s what frustrates me the most.”