May 13, 2018
I am submitting this letter as a matter of public concern to address the mishandling of domestic abuse allegations on the Langston University campus in Langston, Oklahoma. In October 2014, I submitted a complaint to the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges (“Board of Regents”) detailing allegations of physical abuse by President Kent J. Smith, Jr. (“Smith’) and harassment by the campus police chief Frank Atkinson and Officer Derek Miller. Under Smith’s direction and control, Langston University police officers mishandled reports of domestic abuse and exercised their power to further harass and intimidate me. This was a very difficult situation for me to be in because at the time I was married to Smith and living in university housing on the campus. The repeated instances of physical abuse occurred on the Langston University campus in the President’s home. Langston University police thus had jurisdiction over the matter and were direct reports to Smith in his capacity as President of the University.
For several years, the Board of Regents has continued to allow the mishandling of University funds and resources to further Smith’s personal agenda. When I finally found the courage to share what was happening in the form of an official complaint, the Board of Regents chose to protect the institution rather than deal with allegations of domestic abuse. During this time, there were repeated threats that if I ever spoke up my three children would be taken away from me. To date, there has been no response to the complaint and no issuance of any findings as it relates to the investigation, if any such investigation occurred. Similarly, the Board of Regents has been unresponsive to open records requests regarding related records. In March of 2018 an additional complaint was filed with the Office of Management and Enterprise Services regarding the mishandling of the initial 2014 complaint. This investigation is still pending.
The abuse, control and manipulation is continuous in nature although it has now taken a different form. Unfortunately, this form of re-victimization is common when survivors of domestic abuse speak up and is one of the reasons why I continue to use my voice to shed light on this issue. Here, you have domestic abuse coupled with the use of university police officers to further the trauma; a Board of Regents that is more concerned about protecting the public image of the institution instead of conducting a proper investigation; and, statistics that show that this is common phenomenon. As an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse, I am asking you to help change this narrative. Please demand that not only abusers be held accountable but also those who protect them (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is frightening to me that those charged with protecting students at a public institution of higher education would show such little interest in a matter as significant as domestic abuse at the hands of the person they have selected to preside over the University’s affairs. They cannot ignore our collective voices. Please join me in the fight against domestic violence.
Tiffany Hill, Esq.