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ASU Leaders Quiet On Allegations Of Retaliation By Ex-Employee

July 30, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona State University (ASU) leaders accused of retaliation by a former employee for hosting two “faith-based” events have kept quiet on the allegations raised against them.

The former events operator of the ASU Gammage theater alleged retaliation in a letter last week to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) for allowing “faith-based” events to take place.

The complainant, Lin Blake, alleged in a timeline spanning six pages that she had only received positive performance reviews for the nearly three years leading up to the controversial events. It wasn’t until January, the month leading up to the controversial events, that Blake faced challenges to her work performance. Blake allegedly experienced unprecedented scrutiny throughout the planning, preparation, production, and post-event processes concerning the event, though she noted the event was approved last fall. 

“This marked the beginning of the micromanagement of my duties and the overall hostile work environment that would become my future,” stated Blake. 

AZ Free News reached out to each of the individuals allegedly behind the intimidation campaign and punitive measures against Blake regarding the controversial events. None of them responded by press time. 

One of the controversial events, hosted by the now-dissolved T.W. Lewis Center at Barrett Honors College, featured conservative speakers Charlie Kirk, president and founder of activist group Turning Point USA; Dennis Prager, radio host and founder of PragerU; and Robert Kiyosaki, a personal finance book bestseller and PragerU presenter. 

The other controversial event, hosted by Bethel Chandler Church, focused on raising awareness for sex trafficking.

Ahead of the events, Blake alleged that ASU Gammage leadership convened a meeting to express concern that she was allowing a “church program” and “white supremacists” to have a platform at their theater. She also alleged enduring public condemnation and boycotting from her colleagues.

“While I was left with the obligation to run two large and high-profile events, my colleagues that did not show up to work received praise for standing by their personal beliefs,” said Blake. “ASU Gammage staff and leadership should not discriminate against any views, yet they did in plain sight.”

In addition to the accusations of supporting white supremacy, AZ Free News reported previously that Gammage Executive Director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack was alleged to have told staff that they were aligned in beliefs, that they all had voted for President Joe Biden and Gov. Katie Hobbs — even if they hadn’t.

At a faculty and leadership meeting following the upbraiding from Jennings-Roggensack, Blake said she was singled out to explain Gammage’s core values. 

Blake further alleged that two ASU Dean of Students representatives breached security to enter a restricted backstage area and intimidate former Lewis Center director Ann Atkinson.

“[I]f speech was truly free at ASU, producing events with unpopular viewpoints would not have cost my job. There is no freedom of speech when it comes with the punishment of job loss for those who administer it,” wrote Blake.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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