An Excerpt from Retaliation

It was raining on January 29, 2008 when I arrived at Davis.  The sole purpose of my journey was to read the retaliation report.  I went up to the Chancellor’s office and was met by my escort, Tamika Reeves, the executive assistant to Chief Academic Resource Executive Valerie Yu.  It was 2:00 p.m.

I was asked to leave my purse in Tamika’s office.  We got into the elevator and pushed button B2, a basement floor under the Chancellor’s administrative building.  This floor contained unoccupied offices.  We walked down a dimly lit hallway and found the room assigned to me.  Tamika entered the number code on the door lock and opened the door.  I could hear the steady stream of rain pouring on the pavement above.

I entered the tiny, cold room. A rectangular metal table and three chairs looked as if they had been sterilized under the long florescent light that hung above.  I pulled out one of the chairs and sat down facing the door.

I wasn’t allowed to bring anything with me—no paper, no pens, no cell phone. Tamika switched on the light to the room and placed a sealed white envelope on the steel table.  The fluorescent tubes hummed as the room slowly brightened.

“I’ll be back in an hour to see how you’re doing,” Tamika told me. “Do you need anything?” she asked softly after placing a small packet of Kleenex on the table.

Continuous rain pounded on a narrow window high above my head. Tamika turned, opened the door and I waved goodbye.  She nodded back a friendly smile and then locked me into the university’s dungeon. I heard the door close, the lock click and then her footsteps echoing down the empty hallway.

I hoped this report would help me understand why my colleagues were still avoiding me.   I had originally thought there would be a rash of wrath and fury from the department where the fraud took place, but now I wasn’t sure what to expect. The case was mostly over, so why were folks still in a tizzy?  I recalled folks being annoyed about the strict program rules and government forms. Were people angry because of the paperwork?  Or was there something else?

Still stubbornly fixated on fond memories of my work at Davis, I was hoping to restore trust in the scientific community—especially my former friends, colleagues, and associates.  If I could move on, why couldn’t they?

Consumed with the need to understand retaliation, I also wanted closure.  I recalled the seriousness of the faces when I was told that the report was ready.  Both Chief Executive Yu and Vice-Chancellor Taylor-Starr turned white when they said that I’d be allowed to read the report.

Franklin Taylor-Starr told me, “The report is about 70 pages.  We have determined that you have a need to know what is in this report; however, you will only be able to read the report over a specified timeframe and some of the names will be redacted.”

The window above me shook with the sudden down pour of heavy rain and thunder.  I tore open the envelope.