UH administrator resigns after falsifying signature
A UH administrator resigned Friday for falsifying the signature of a campus speaker who had refused to sign a state form stating they would not boycott Israel, a University investigation found.
Jeanette Martinez, who worked in the Hispanic Studies business office, was handling the payments of University of Southern California Ph.D. student Vanessa Villarreal for speaking on campus in late February. A University investigation concluded that Martinez had falsified the signature of Villarreal on a form stating Villarreal would not boycott Israel in order to complete processing her payment.
“Over the last week we have conducted a review where the document came from,” University spokesman Mike Rosen said. “The only conclusion is the document with the signature came from the office.”
Villarreal had not been paid for weeks after she came to campus and contacted Martinez for payment on April 10.
On April 20, Martinez said for Villarreal’s payment to be processed she would need to sign an updated contract and a form stating she would not boycott Israel. State agencies, including the University, are not allowed to conduct business with companies that boycott Israel.
However, the University received informal guidance in March from the state attorney general’s office that individual campus speakers do not need to sign the form stating they won’t boycott Israel, Rosen said.
The University passed this information to its departments on April 9.
“I refuse to sign a revised contract or any boycott Israel form,” Villarreal wrote in an email to Martinez on April 22.
The email from Villarreal threatened legal action if she did not receive payment. The following day, Martinez said she would be paid $700. Martinez said the form was new, and the office handling the payment had not realized she had already fulfilled her services.
Rosen said Martinez made a mistake asking Villarreal to sign the form when she did not need to. The University began its investigation late last week after the University showed the Houston Chronicle the boycott Israel form with Villarreal’s falsified signature despite Villarreal stating she did not sign the form.
“The decision made (to falsify the signature) had nothing to do with the context of the form,” Rosen said.
He said no other documents have been identified to be falsified and the University is reiterating to its departments that individual speakers should not be asked to sign the form. He said the mistake by Martinez was made to get Villarreal’s payment processed and not about the politics behind the form.