Former Graduate Student Accuses UNC-Chapel Hill Of Racial Discrimination

By Jovonne Ledet

September 22, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

A former Black graduate student is suing The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on allegations of racial discrimination and retaliation, NBC News reports.

Rose Brown, 28, has filed a lawsuit, accusing faculty members of the university's Kenan-Flagler Business School of belittling her competence, scolding her after being sexually assaulted, and criticizing her for requesting deadline extensions due to court hearings related to the case.

In the suit, Brown alleges she wasn't afforded the same scheduling accommodations as her white counterparts, who were given extensions for "writer's block."

“It was tortured in a lot of ways. I was ostracized from a faculty standpoint. I was continuously berated with various comments. It was humiliating. It was disheartening. It broke me down every day. I had panic attacks every time I went to school,” Brown told NBC News.

The 28-year-old said faculty members also failed to include a photo of her, then the only Black woman in the Ph.D. program, in the program's portfolio of candidates, per the suit.

According to the lawsuit, the "racism and sexism" became apparent when she asked for extensions to attend court hearings for her domestic violence protective orders, which were made after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a male acquaintance.

Brown said she informed university professors Shimul Melwani and Michael Christian of the court hearings and assault, but they held that information against her.

“They knew why I was going to court. They knew everything. And that was held against me,” she said.

Her lawsuit names the university, its board of governors, Melwani, Christian, and Sreedhari Desai, another UNC-Chapel Hill professor.

Brown’s attorney, Artur Davis, said UNC-Chapel Hill's Equal Opportunity Compliance Office found no evidence of wrongdoing following Brown reporting the discrimination.

“They told her at the end of her first year in the program: ‘Your grades are great. Your research is great. It’s not about that. We don’t think you fit in here,’” Davis told NBC.

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