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Bon Appétit, a private on-site restaurant company that has acted as the St. Edward’s food service partner for more than nine years, has reopened an internal investigation that arose after chefs alleged a manager referred to students using a racial slur.

Cynthia Johnson, associate vice president for Business Services said on Feb.15, “no further action is deemed necessary,” on the case and it was closed.The next day, Hilltop Views published a version of this story online. Bon Appétit reopened this investigation on Feb. 19.

Bon Appétit General Manager Michael Smith said there were discrepancies in the investigation and the information Hilltop Views gathered. When asked for specifics, Smith said he could not discuss details for employee privacy reasons.

A Bon Appétit chef told Hilltop Views that he witnessed Catering Manager Jack Norman make derogatory comments about members of the African Student Organization, as well as lock doors that are usually accessible to the general public. The evening of the investigated incident was Dec. 5, during the organization’s annual “Taste Of Africa” celebration in Mabee Ballroom. Norman declined to comment.

“I can tell you that both employees will not be scheduled while the investigation is in progress,” Smith said. “Bon Appétit’s chief administrative officer, national director of Human Resources, and other senior managers are closely involved in this situation.”

Manuel De Los Santos, a Bon Appétit chef who has worked at St. Edward’s for five years, recalls the night of the incident.

“We were riding down the elevator when he first made the comment,” De Los Santos said. “I asked why a certain door was locked and he said, ‘Well there’s a Negro event going on upstairs, I don’t want them stealing anything from us’ and I was like, ‘Jack, are you serious?’”

De Los Santos reported the incident to Bon Appétit management the next day. The following day, sous chefs and other managers called De Los Santos in for a meeting, he said.

“Jack told us that that he meant to say ‘black’ and that he thought the organization had a funny name. But, I don’t see how he can think that,” De Los Santos said.

Earlier this week, Bon Appétit suspended De Los Santos with pay until the reopened investigation is finished.

“I don’t know what the investigation was before then, I don’t know how they run their procedures,”De Los Santos said.

Caroline Ikpea, president of the African Student Organization, told HIlltop Views that she was “very heartbroken” after she was told about the remarks.

“I couldn’t handle it,” Ikpea said. “We try our best to make sure we educate people on this campus, that’s our main purpose of our organization, so when we hear things like this it definitely makes our job harder.”

After learning about these comments, the ASO met with the Dean of Students Steven Pinkenburg last semester, who in return, referred the students to Johnson.

Johnson said the university’s contractors must meet St. Edward’s standards of conduct.

“Contractor employees must follow the university’s standards for appropriate conduct, including a commitment not to tolerate verbal or written harassment or discrimination,” Johnson said. “Bon Appétit continues to be a good business partner for the university and has been transparent and thorough in their investigation of this matter.”

The ASO said they want the termination of Norman’s employment as well as a student-led panel with people of color discussing the issues they face on campus.

ASO representatives say they want this incident to serve as a learning experience for the university.

“As people of color on campus, it is necessary for our well-being that the school provides a safe space in order for us to learn,” ASO member Kadija Samura said. “Although this campus is very progressive, there are still instances when people of color face aggressions on a micro and macro level.”

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