Chartwells will send corporate human resource personnel to the University of Miami on Monday to review Betty Asbury’s dismissal, said Nawara Alawa, Student Government (SG) president.
Asbury was dismissed on Oct. 10. According to Asbury, this occurred the day after a man walked past her cashier post in the Hecht/Stanford Dining Hall without paying.
“I hope they say, ‘Betty, OK – we find you at no fault. You is to return back to work,’” Asbury said. “I want it to happen. I know it’s going to happen. I don’t see why it shouldn’t happen.”
Though no students approached SG about Asbury, Alawa believed this was a matter she needed to address as president.
“Let’s be real – it’s a little bit of a racy situation,” Alawa said. “There were rumors flying around.”
Alawa worked with Patricia Whitely, vice president for student affairs, to determine the appropriate course of action. Whitely and other senior leadership contacted Chartwells corporate executives directly to arrange for the investigation.
“Things are blurry on both sides, so an investigation is probably in order,” Alawa said. “We’ll see if termination was actually on proper grounds or not.”
Asbury sees the investigation as good news.
“I think this is wonderful,” she said. “It’s something I can look forward to – to coming back to the university, to coming back to work. Because I really need it.”
Asbury, a single mother, has 15 years of cashier experience in Miami. It takes her two paychecks to pay her mortgage, and she lives alone.
Philipp Schwind, who started a petition on change.org to reinstate Asburg, said he is grateful for both SG’s and Whitely’s help. However, he isn’t satisfied.
“This is the first step, but it’s nothing more than an announcement,” said Schwind, a fifth-year graduate student of philosophy. “At the same time, the question remains: Why did it happen? Why could it happen? Can it happen again? These are the questions that now come to the forefront.”
As of 11 p.m. Sunday, the petition had 2,732 signatures and 92 personal statements.
“It’s certainly not enough to simply reinstate Miss Betty,” Schwind said. “Her problem is just a symptom of a larger underlying problem. Chartwells can’t simply fire workers at will for no reason and then out of an act of crisis, reinstate them. These workers deserve protection.”
Students for a New Democracy (STAND) members and other students are planning events during the next three weeks to push for Asbury’s reinstatement. Depending on the results of the investigation, these students may deliver the petition to both Chartwells and UM next week.
Up-to-date information can be found on the Facebook group “Bring Betty Back.”
“I want to thank you guys for the love and support, and I will be back shortly,” Asbury said to applause and cheering at a meeting Friday evening with dozens of student supporters.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.