By Michael Yu, Jan. 31, 2023
On Nov. 19, 2021, I was contacted through email by Kimberly Gretchen Allain, Cal Poly Pomona’s Senior Associate Vice President for Employee and Organizational Development and Advancement. Upon first seeing the message, I was confused on the intent, as it seemed to insinuate me as being involved in a whistleblower claim on campus.
Through the email, Allain put me into contact with Jordan Gropack, an attorney at Solomon Law. Gropack continued with another email, stating that he was an independent investigator looking into concerns from the campus PD.
Upon inquiring more on the matter, Gropack stated, “I am not able to share specifics on exactly what I am investigating, but there are both whistleblower and retaliation claims at Cal Poly. You are not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation, but your name came up as a person who might have knowledge of facts relevant to the issues at hand.”
This struck me as odd- nothing came to my mind that I could know about a possible whistleblower case. I had kept mostly within the Communications department and did not involve myself with the wider campus that often. I racked my brain trying to think of something, anything that could explain this. Confused and nervous, I organized a Zoom meeting with Gropack on Dec. 22 at 10am.
The meeting did not last long. Upon entering the meeting, Gropack asked me if I was Mike Yu, CPP’s Director of Parking & Transportation Services. Once I answered that I was not, and that I was just a student, he abruptly ended the meeting.
I was left as confused as before. Assuming that it was nothing but a case of mistaken identity, I pushed it to the back of my mind until the Fall 2022 semester, where the lid was blown on the aforementioned whistleblower case. In a story published on Oct. 25, the Poly Post investigated a lawsuit filed by UPD Sergeant Marcus Simpson against the campus.
Inside the lawsuit, the plaintiff Simpson alleged that when the CSU hired a law firm to investigate whistleblower complaints, the attorneys “refused to let interviewees record the interviews and showed biases against the whistleblowers and asked one whistleblower “if it really even mattered if the names were released by the CSU.”
Upon learning this information, this incident with Gropack rushed back to my mind. All the pieces seemed to fit, and once I received confirmation that the investigator was Gropack, I felt shocked at how neatly it fit into the Poly Post’s investigations.
Gropack did not respond to a request for an interview.
When contacted for a statement, Allain stated, “The only context I can provide is that to my knowledge, the email that you received was the only one misdirected to the wrong person. Because the subject of the email involves a whistleblower complaint, I am not able to add any additional information.”
The lawsuit alleges many incidents, from embezzlement coverups to illegal outings of whistleblowers. To know that these things were allegedly happening on the campus was a shock – however, knowing how the investigations were being conducted raised many more questions.
Additionally, I find it troubling how both an investigator and campus administration mistook an innocuous student, who is now also coincidentally the Editor in Chief of the Poly Post, for the parking director.
Feature image by Darren Loo
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