CSUMB official draws criticism for joke

A 55-second video released on the popular Instagram page, @mb_confess, has gone viral due to comments made by a high-ranking university official regarding the allocated housing for Department of Defense (DOD) employees in East Campus.

Glen Nelson, the vice president of administration and finance and chief financial officer for California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) suggested in a University Corporation Board meeting that they “…call [East Campus residents who are DOD employees] in the middle of the night and scare them and tell them their house is haunted so they leave.”

The comment was made during a discussion about the current contract CSUMB has with the DOD, which states that at least 10% of East Campus units are to be reserved for DOD employees. If the tenancy rate falls below 10%, the contract is void and the available units can be used solely for CSUMB staff and students. This also means that CSUMB would be able to increase or decrease rent prices.

“I apologize for the language I used at a University Corporation Board meeting on Sept. 21 during an update on corporation operations,” said Nelson in a statement to the Lutrinae. “CSUMB leaders and I are committed to supporting veteran students and veterans in this region, and have a good working relationship with the Veterans Transition Center of California in Marina.” 

A common misconception is that the 10% clause of the contract refers solely to veterans. Walter Ryce, CSUMB’s spokesperson, clarified in a statement sent to the Monterey Herald that the housing is to be reserved for the “Department of Defense, which includes civilians, active-duty military members, and National Guard and Reserve Service members.”

The leaked video of the board meeting has caused a public uproar, with about a dozen people reposting the hashtag “Glen’s Gotta Go.” As of Sept. 29, the video had around 13,000 views,  570 likes and 35 comments. 

The University Corporation Board meetings are open to the public, but the recordings are not released publicly. However, since they are recorded via Zoom, anyone can ask for a copy of the recording to be sent to them.

A student who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, felt a responsibility to share these comments with the CSUMB community and emailed Nelson’s comments to the Veteran Affairs office at CSUMB. President Vanya Quiñones replied via email and apologized for Nelson’s comments on his behalf.

“At [CSUMB] we are proud of our history as a former military base and we have a long history of supporting veteran students as well as the children of some of the military personnel who served in our region,” said Quiñones.

She continued, “Although not properly articulated, the underlying message he meant to convey is that as we grow our enrollment at the university, our need for affordable housing options for both students and employees will also increase.”

Quiñones and Ryce both explained that part of Nelson’s job is to “explore all options to increase the available affordable housing we have for students.” Nelson was also responsible for negotiating the Chartwells contract which introduced ValidFill cups to the campus.

“As an institution on a former military base, CSUMB has shown deep respect for service members. Glen Nelson has been a big supporter of veterans,” said Kurt Schake, CEO of Veterans Transition Center of California in a statement made to the Lutrinae.

Schake continued, “I know that CSUMB has been eager to acquire more housing in East Campus, which makes sense and I support their pursuit of it. I think this has been taken out of context. I took what Glen said at the University Corporation board meeting very lightly. He would never propose something like that realistically.”

Many students are not satisfied with the school’s response to the controversy.

A commenter on the leaked Instagram video writes, “house your students in safe and affordable housing first, before trying to kick anyone out.”

Another Instagram comment reads, “Stop making this more complicated than it needs to be. Build housing for students, staff and DOD and get it done. The people in charge seem to enjoy living in a state of ‘paralysis by analysis.’”

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