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2024
Antioch College
Closed since March 2020, the Antioch College Wellness Center will reopen under the management of the Yellow Springs Development Corporation. Here, visitors toured the center a few months before it opened in September 2014. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

(Photo by Megan Bachman)

Firing at Wellness Center causes local concern

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Local resident Guy “Tron” Banks has experienced an outpouring of community support in the last few weeks after he was terminated from his position as a personal trainer at the Wellness Center at Antioch College, a position he’d held since April 2022.

According to Banks and his supporters — some of whom have written letters published in the News — the termination was unexpected, unwarranted and administered without due process.

Prior to his termination, Banks also worked as an assistant manager for the Wellness Center, a position from which he resigned prior to his firing as a personal fitness trainer. In addition to his work as a personal trainer, Banks, a father of two, is also an area hip hop musician, performing solo as Tronee Threat and as part of the group Everybody Eats.

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According to documentation obtained by the News, a termination letter sent to Banks on Jan. 24, and signed by Director of Operations and Administration Hannah Spirrison Montgomery, alleges “threatening behavior” toward the Wellness Center’s then-new director, Kathy Kern Ross, as reason for the termination of Banks’ contract as a personal trainer.

The college publicly announced the hiring of Kern Ross the same day Banks was terminated, stating in a press release that Kern Ross holds a master’s degree in higher education with work experience in strategic management and aquatics and sports facility operations.

The college’s termination letter to Banks reads in part: “The threatening behavior exhibited toward your supervisor is a violation of the college’s policies. Due to these threats toward your supervisor, the agreement will terminate immediately, and you cannot be present in the Wellness Center without arranging a time with Public Safety.” The letter does not specify the nature or content of the alleged threats made by Banks.

However, in a Jan. 29 written response to Spirrison Montgomery, recently obtained by the News, Banks denies displaying any threatening behavior against Kern Ross, writing: “This is a completely false and hurtful accusation, and I am genuinely astonished to read this. It seems Ms. [Kern] Ross is accusing me of things I did not, in any way, say or do. I’m also disappointed that there seems to be no due process in which these accusations could be investigated and no opportunity for me to respond.”

Banks’ letter goes on to request mediation between himself and Ross in the hope that he may be rehired to his position as a personal trainer.

Banks responded to a request for comment from the News, but was unavailable to speak on the record this week. Antioch College has not responded to multiple requests from the News for comment on, or additional context for, Banks’ firing.

Leading the charge in community support of Banks is The 365 Project, a longtime local nonprofit organization whose stated mission, in part, is “responding to public issues related to racial equity 365 days a year.”

The News spoke this week with The 365 Project Chair John Gudgel, who said Banks reached out to the organization after he received a termination letter from Antioch College.

“That’s how we got involved,” Gudgel said.

According to documents received by the News, The 365 Project contacted Antioch College administration by letter on Jan. 31. In early February, representatives from the organization met with Antioch College President Jane Fernandes and the college’s board of directors to request that Banks be reinstated to his position as a personal trainer, that his termination letter be removed or redacted from his personnel record, and that a facilitated discussion between Banks and Ross be scheduled, with two advocates for Banks present at the discussion.

Because Banks is a Black man accused of misconduct by a white woman, his supporters have begun to probe both the motivation behind, and the public impression made by, his termination, as evidenced by letters to the editor in both this issue and the Feb. 23 issue of the News.

“Certainly the optics of it don’t look good, particularly when you look at a long history of situations involving Black men and white women,” Gudgel said. “Antioch prides itself on social justice — due process and the aspect of social justice are a recurring theme with people who have expressed concern.”

Gudgel said The 365 Project intends to continue pursuing a resolution to the issue between Banks and Antioch College administration, whatever that may be.

“Of course, we can’t be the ones to resolve this situation,” he said. “We would like to continue this all the way through.”

Contact: chuck@ysnews.com

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3 Responses to “Firing at Wellness Center causes local concern”

  1. Kathy Kern Ross says:

    Oh my god these comments are a riot. Ah yes a liberal arts college with an average graduating class of less than 20 people is going to solve racism in its entirety… by not doing anything about the registered republican who currently runs the wellness center (aka Kathy Kern Ross). Someone who the entire community either absolutely loathes or doesn’t give a single f$&@ about. It’s so obvious the other “anonymous commenter” is either Kathy Kern Ross herself, Jane Fernandes, or some other entitled white woman in Antioch Administration. Tell us why you fired Tron, coward.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Reed. The YS community including the MAYOR’S Office needs to stop HARASSING the Antioch College administration and LET US DO OUR JOBS. I like how the YS Newspaper likes to point out the outrage of community members whenever we DON’T and DO fire someone from the College. It is a serious indictment of the left that the College cannot come together with local community members to solve REAL-WORLD problems, including racism, sexism, homophobia, hunger, war, and the like. Instead, they pick frivolous fights with the College over CONFIDENTIAL PERSONNEL matters and WEAPONIZE genuine social justice issues and wicked problems to do so. Pick on someone your own size and find something to do other than count your money all day long.

  3. Reed Alexander says:

    Someone with a history of abusive and threatening behavior now enlists an organization to threaten and harass Antioch into submission to get him hired back. Social justice means that, as equals, black people are held to the same standards as everyone else. And yes, sometimes they get fired – just as a white person would. The 365 Project should be sued or investigated for intimidating Antioch and harassing a College administrator.

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