Report: Penn’s College Housing Director Taking Heat for “Insensitive Comments”

The Daily Pennsylvanian claims to have spoken with nearly two dozen former and current Penn staffers who have attested to Martin Redman's "disregard for his staff’s discomfort."

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education|Google Maps

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education|Google Maps

The director of college housing at the University of Pennsylvania is taking heat from staffers accusing him of “a long line of sexist and culturally insensitive comments,” Dan Spinelli of The Daily Pennsylvanian reports.

Martin Redman, the executive director of Penn’s College Houses and Academic Services (CHAS), is being regarded as “sexist at worst and woefully insensitive at best,” according to the university’s student newspaper, which claims to have spoken with nearly two dozen former and current house deans, CHAS members, and faculty fellows who have attested to “a pattern of continued disregard for his staff’s discomfort.”

As the executive director of CHAS, Redman oversees the university’s 11 college houses, working with staff, house deans, students, and faculty across the university. The article mentions what some staffers call the “Africa comment,” which they allege Redman made in October 2014 during a periodic meeting with college house deans, at which Redman addressed a decision to cut resident advisors’ work-study grants.

At the time, Student Financial Services made the decision to cut the funding, which the advisors were not supposed to receive but had mistakenly been collecting, the newspaper reports. One advisor was apparently sending the money home to his family, as several students had in the past, according to the newspaper.

According to seven employees interviewed by The Daily Pennsylvanian, Redman referred to the student, who is black, when he said he “was not in the business of sending money back home to Africa. Too bad for him.”

It’s just one comment that staffers have labeled as racially insensitive, coming from a boss who has been the subject of complaints made to Penn’s Division of Human Resources by at least seven former or current CHAS staffers, Spinelli writes.

Many employees spoke with Spinelli anonymously, but others, like former CHAS employee John Merz, were more vocal.

“Another issue I have is with Marty Redman,” Merz, who is gay, wrote in an email to Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein days before he quit, according to the newspaper. “He is abrasive, condesending [sic] and outright rude to most of the people he interacts with in CHAS. He, for a lack of a better term, is a workplace bully.”

Staffers reference several offensive comments allegedly made by Redman, including one about “Penn President Amy Gutmann’s Jewish religion” and others about maternity leave and the “slender figure” of a coworker.

A spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania declined to comment on the article this afternoon. Redman, who has served as executive director since 2011, did not immediately return a request for comment, and a call to a CHAS office went unanswered.

Read the full article in The Daily Pennsylvanian here.

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