A thick stack of papers, which outlined
the three-step process in firing Miguel Cervantes
from B-street Permaculture Project sat
on Professor Deke Gundersen’s desk.
“I can tell you what I know and what
Miguel has told me,” said Gundersen. He
made sure to emphasize that anything he’s
quoted saying in this article is a reflection of
his opinion and in no way associated with
First things to know: Cervantes has
been with Pacific University for at least 25
years. He worked on facilities and worked
on B-Street for the last five years. He was
responsible for the two acres of land that
makes up B-Street, which is also owned
by Metro. Pacific University’s Human
Resources department had been working
with Cervantes prior to him being fired.
Cervantes was fired on Sept. 16, without a
Despite the efforts Human Resources
made with Cervantes, many think something
doesn’t add up.
“In my mind, it’s like you’ve committed
murder,” said Gundersen. He explained that
Cervantes is now living paycheck to paycheck
and as a minority without a college degree, his
career options are limited.
The first official step toward Cervantes
being fired was a formal meeting. Gundersen
understood that the meeting was regarding
Cervantes’s timeliness. He was told he must
clock in and out at Pacific’s campus instead of
going straight to B-street. He was also told to
remove the drums he had on site and that he
or anyone else could not be on the site during
“Miguel was one of the few who encouraged
students to come out and actually enjoy
the land,” said Gundersen.
“He took it upon himself
to build a flood wall, which
without, B-Street wouldn’t be.
He worked extra on his own
time. Overall, he probably put
more hours in that place than is
Gundersen recalled asking
Cervantes for help when
he was teaching a class on
B-Street, but Cervantes was
rushed and said he couldn’t explain
to Gundersen because he
needed to drive back to Pacific
and clock out in time.
The second step was a
list of issues noted by Harold
Roark, Director of Facilities.
The list included more than 15
things Cervantes needed to fix.
Examples included trash on the
floor and piles of rocks in disarray.
The list states, “wood not
stacked,” and later down the
list claims, “unstacked wood.”
“To me the list looked
like someone went to see what
they could find wrong,” said
Gundersen. “He had to deal
with Metro coming in and
cutting down a tree and telling
him to deal with it. He
had Pacific on him and then
students coming in and not
cleaning up after themselves.
He was one man taking care
of two acres.”
The third step was photos
of the rocks and woodchips
and other issues stated before
with comments below them
written by art professor Terry
O’Day, such as “Miguel has no
sense of tidy.”
O’Day, Roark, Director
of the School of Social Sciences,
Sarah Philips and Director
Center for Civic Engagement,
Stephanie Stokamer signed
the packet that sent Cervantes
off B-Street and restricted him
from completing his degree.
Since he was an employee Cervantes
didn’t have to pay full
tuition and was a few semesters
away from a degree.
“I feel like this is the
wrong way to have handled
the situation,” said junior
Brian Mejia, a student who
created the Miguel Support
Facebook Page. “So far it’s a
lot of people asking what happened.”
The page currently
has 88 members.
In addition, Gundersen
said that at least 20 faculty
members are upset with the decision,
but haven’t voiced their
When the environmental
science department ran BStreet,
Gundersen said they
dealt with similar issues of tidiness.
“We saw cleanliness as a
minor thing,” he said. “We can
talk through this.”
Currently, Cervantes is
unemployed, and Gundersen
said he fears the firing has left
“If people would like to
help, they should write the
people who made the decisions
around here,” said Mejia.
A group of faculty members
are meeting with President
Lesley Hallick soon to discuss
the possibility of waiving Cervantes’s
tuition so he can finish
“We want to urge that this
is the least that can be done for
Miguel,” said Mejia.
Director of Human Resources
Troy Strass said Pacific
remains confidential about details
“I can assure you Miguel
Cervantes’ separation from
employment does not reflect
poorly of his character or his
integrity,” said Strass. “It is always
unfortunate and in this
case particularly sad when the
needs of the university and the
preferences of the employee are
not in alignment.” He noted that Cervantes provided Pacific with many years of dedicated service and if he sought re-employment with Pacific, he would remain eligible to apply for any positions as long as he met the qualifications.