By Robert Cyr
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights is investigating a discrimination complaint filed by a Latino Quinnipiac University student after school officials allegedly made a racist comment following a hearing to evict him from his dormitory, the school’s newspaper reports.
The student, whose name is obscured in a copy of an education department’s letter, was kicked out of his dorm in April after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. When the student’s mother asked Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Seann Kalagher what evidence they had to prove her son violated the student code of conduct, Kalagher replied that “…he did not need any evidence to make a decision because this is how your people act,” according to the Quad News, an independent student newspaper at Quinnipiac.
Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs at Quinnipiac, said “the university does not comment on matters pending before a judicial agency.”
The student told the office of civil rights (OCR) that he didn’t assault his ex-girlfriend, and the school ignored evidence proving his innocence because is Latino. Hamden police did not return calls to confirm whether the student had been arrested on assault charges. OCR specialist David Thomas did not return calls for comment.
The OCR dismissed a separate complaint by the student alleging that Quinnipiac also discriminated against him based on gender. The student claimed his former roommate choked him and a residential assistant told him the most the school could do was offer a change of rooms. The OCR declined to investigate the claim because the student didn’t file a formal complaint against the roommate and could not produce evidence, according to the Quad.
It isn’t the first time the university has been investigated by the feds for discrimination. In August, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the school violated Title IX because it did not grant equal athletic opportunities to female athletes. The school wrongly contended that “competitive cheerleading” qualifies as an athletic opportunity for women.
According to the Quinnipiac Chronicle, the official university student newspaper, Kalagher also has oversight of the school’s Title IX compliance. The article said, “Complaints against students, visitors or third-parties should go to Kalagher.” Title IX goes beyond the playing field and also deals with any acts of discrimination at a university like Quinnipiac.
The OCR will first give the student and the school a chance to reach an agreement in an “Early Complaint Resolution.” Failing that, the OCR will investigate Quinnipiac further. If the school or student is found guilty, both could lose any federal funding they recieve, according to the Quad.
By Robert Cyr