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Monday, October 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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PowerPoint slides corroborate allegations of sexism in SCC program

A PowerPoint used by a criminal justice instructor at Spokane Community College contained multiple slides noting supposed gender differences between men and women. Among them: A woman wants a man to be very rich and to give her lots of attention, while a man wants a woman to “1. Show up naked 2. Bring beer.”

The slides, obtained through a public records request, corroborate details from a Title IX complaint filed by a student against the instructor, who’s under investigation for discrimination.

Student Jaida Burgess said she objected to the PowerPoint presentation when Criminal Justice instructor Mike Prim used it in class. Prim accused her of being argumentative and kicked her out of class, she said.

Prim subsequently filed a number of student conduct complaints against Burgess with the community college student development office. The office reviewed those complaints and declined to sanction Burgess.

Burgess left the program in late March, about two months after filing the Title IX complaint. The investigation will be finished within a week, according to college officials.

Burgess said she objected to the slides during class.

“What is going on in the program is a reflection on law enforcement and it’s extremely sketchy and it’s affected multiple students’ degrees,” Burgess said last week. “I am not the only person who has been through this.”

Kiel Frey was a student in the same human relations class and said Prim often made sexist comments and jokes. Women in the class had to “grimace” and suffer through it, he said. Frey is expected to graduate from the criminal justice program this spring.

“That was standard for that class. Absolutely standard,” he said.

However, at least one student who was in the class sees it differently. Nicole Harnetiaux said she never saw the slides referenced in the complaint, and that the other questionable slides were intended to illustrate how men and women think differently.

“There was definitely nothing ever demeaning or degrading in that class,” she said.

Download the PowerPoint presentation here.

Prim, a former Spokane police lieutenant and the current chair of SCC’s criminal justice program, did not return calls and emails requesting comment over the past two weeks.

Burgess said she hesitated to file the complaint and ignored a number of earlier, similar incidents.

“I didn’t feel it was my position to hold them accountable,” she said. “But there was only so much I could handle.”

The Title IX complaint Burgess filed alleges racism and discrimination dating back to the winter of 2015. At that time she was enrolled in a minority studies class taught by Prim and claims he told the class, “Black people over-exaggerate racism and that is why it still exists.”

That spring, Burgess said she also tried to report rumors that an adjunct instructor slept with a student while on a trip organized by a criminal justice student group. When she brought her concerns to Prim and Gary Johns, another instructor in the program, they kicked her out of the group, she said.

When she threatened to file a complaint regarding the matter, Johns told her he would “make sure you never have a career in law enforcement, and a lot of things will be exposed, so I suggest you take this home over the weekend and think about it,” according to the complaint.

Brian Suchowesky, Burgess’ husband, said he was present when Prim and Johns threatened her.

The adjunct instructor’s contract was not renewed following spring quarter 2015, according to an SCC spokeswoman.

Frey, who was the vice president of the criminal justice student group, also said he was kicked out of the group after learning about the adjunct instructor’s behavior. He said Prim and Johns confronted him and told him if he talked about the alleged incident, he would be kicked out of the criminal justice program, and possibly expelled from SCC. Frey said he agreed to not speak to other students about it, or file a complaint.

He did, however, speak about the incident to a college dean.

“Honestly I was afraid,” Frey said. “They make it sound like if they blackball you, you are done.”

Burgess said she also finds it offensive that Douglas Strosahl, the officer who hosted a party where a fellow Spokane Police Officer is accused of sexually assaulting another female officer last year, still teaches in the criminal justice program.

When the investigation is concluded the findings will be presented to college administrators for any disciplinary actions.

Title IX protects against discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal money.

There are about 100 students enrolled in the criminal justice program at SCC. Johns has taught at SCC for 25 years and made $83,101 in 2014. Prim has taught there 35 years and made $98,586 that year.

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