FAU Trustee Angela Graham-West Explains Why She Felt Harassed; Students Call for Restraining Order Against Allen West | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


FAU Trustee Angela Graham-West Explains Why She Felt Harassed; Students Call for Restraining Order Against Allen West

Today former U.S. Rep. Allen West posted threatening-sounding messages on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, suggesting that Florida Atlantic University students had harassed his wife, Angela Graham-West, a trustee at the school.

This afternoon via phone, Graham-West explained what prompted his message.

"This all started out as an internal thing," she said. Several weeks ago -- before the deal for FAU to accept $6 million from private prison operator GEO Group in exchange for stadium naming rights was cancelled -- two male students "with some group called 'Owlcatraz' entered my office talking about all kinds of crazy stuff, like how I should resign from the board."

Graham-West, who was formerly a business professor at Kansas State University, said they told her secretary "a story" to get past the front desk and entered her office uninvited and without an appointment.

"This was about the GEO deal. I tried to explain that every corporation has a history, you know." She said she talked about how "Nike, Volkswagen, all have histories. They started getting riled up." She described the two men as "zealots."

She said they asked, "You think you're as tough as your husband, don't you?" and "All you want to do is bring back Jim Crow!" (to which she responded, "How can we? We're black!")

Graham-West says she felt threatened. "All logical arguments come off the table when you start to intimidate people. I'll discuss A through Z, but I'm not willing to listen to strangers tell me what they want me to do. There is no way that you can violate a person's space and then have a logical discussion... There are civilized ways of going about meeting with people."

After about 45 minutes or an hour, she said, her partner came in and saw it was not going well and interrupted. She said the men were asked to leave by her company's internal security.

She says that she did not get either young man's name and that when they left, one "took the door and slammed it so hard it almost broke the plate glass."

She thought the confrontation was over, but then yesterday, she says, at a Board of Trustees meeting that was open to the public, she saw in the crowd one of the students from that meeting. "That's called stalking," she says. She says she alerted campus security but did not file an incident report. "Police were there and tried to escort them out."

Then last night and today, she says, her boss and co-workers received emails presumably from the same two men. "It's becoming a three-ring circus," she said.

She declined to provide a copy of the email but said it suggested she should be fired and let go from the Board of Trustees. She said the students alleged they had been invited in to her office and accused her of becoming aggressive and saying that people who owned Volkswagens were Nazis. She said it had an ominous tone, saying, "You can't threaten us, Angela." She did not know why she and no other trustee was targeted for protest.

Given the bombings in Boston and recent campus shootings, Graham-West says she was unnerved. "They could have done anything. They could have shot me. I just come with a pencil, a pen, and a briefcase."