Caplans no longer Martel RAs
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012 15:08
Ed Caplan and Maria Tsakalis Caplan are no longer Resident Associates at Martel College and moved out of Martel on Friday, Aug. 17, according to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson. According to Maria Caplan, she has also been terminated from her full-time position at the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center.
Martel RAs Jeff and Stephanie Frey have extended their stay at Martel as the college begins recruitment to have new RAs in place by January, Hutchinson said.
According to Maria Caplan, she and her husband were accused of the following offenses regarding their positions as RAs: drinking in inappropriate settings, providing alcohol to minors, poor leadership regarding alcohol education and policy, interference of alcohol and intoxication with performance of job duties and inappropriate physical contact.
The same allegations were brought against Maria Caplan regarding her position as Nutrition and Body Image Specialist at the Rice Wellness Center, excluding inappropriate physical contact, Maria Caplan said.
Hutchinson said that he could not comment on the specifics of the case because it involved personnel issues. According to Hutchinson, the changes regarding the RA positions occurred as a result of investigations prompted by concerns initially brought to the administration by students. Hutchinson could not say specifically what those concerns were.
“Upon hearing the concerns, we felt that they deserved an investigation,” Hutchinson said. “We have processes for following up on those investigations and processes for determining how to respond to what we learn from those investigations.”
Maria Caplan said she and her husband were shocked upon learning that they had to leave Martel immediately.
“This came out of completely nowhere,” Maria Caplan said. “We always looked at Martel as our family, as our home … Imagine being thrown out of your home.”
Hutchinson said personnel decisions regarding RA appointments and other university staff positions are made independently of one another.
“The position of Resident Associate and any other staff position in the university are both employment positions and are separate appointments,” Hutchinson said.
Rice University Human Resources Policy No. 411-93 on Discipline states that when administering all disciplinary action, the seriousness and frequency of the offense, past records and circumstances are taken into consideration.
“Rice University expects that following basic standards of conduct will promote a high quality work environment and ensure responsible behavior,” the Rice website states. “The supervisor should notify an employee whose job performance is inadequate, explaining … the expectations for improvement. Because of the individual nature of each situation, Rice University reserves the right to impose discipline appropriate to the circumstances.”
Hutchinson said that though personnel decisions ultimately rest with him, the administration engaged in a careful and deliberative process in investigating the allegations against the Caplans.
“A lot of people weigh in on this. As a consequence, there are lots of checks and balances in the university to make sure everyone is treated fairly,” Hutchinson said. “The university places a high priority on ensuring that we are fair, deliberative and consultative. We are confident when the time comes to make the decision that we have made a decision in the best interest of the students.”
Maria Caplan said she felt that she and her husband had been treated unfairly.
“We were guilty until proven innocent while they did their investigation,” Maria Caplan said.
According to Maria Caplan, neither she nor her husband were given the opportunity to discuss the allegations made against them with Hutchinson.
Hutchinson confirmed that he did not meet personally with the Caplans to discuss the allegations made against them with them.
“There were multiple conversations with the Caplans by more than one member of the administration,” Hutchinson said. “I was not [one of those members].”
Maria Caplan said she had met with Associate Dean of Undergraduates Donald Ostdiek once, when she was in his offce on Aug. 17 and first received the orders to leave Martel.
“We never had a chance to defend ourselves against accusations which led to our forced resignation from the RA position and termination from my full time position at the Wellness Center,” Maria Caplan said.
Maria Caplan said she felt that the allegations made regarding her RA position may have influenced the status of her job at the Wellness Center.
“I was not rightfully terminated,” Maria Caplan said. “I only received stellar reviews during my time at the Wellness Center. I’d just received a rave [review] from Dean Hutchinson stating what a wonderful job I had been doing at the Wellness Center, so I was really confused as to why a few allegations brought against me in the RA position would ever affect my Wellness Center position.”