* Coming a little late to this, but here’s WILL…
A lawsuit filed Monday in federal court includes numerous allegations of racial harassment of black employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The plaintiffs allege in court documents racial harassment is U of I’s “standard operating procedure.”
Black employees at the U of I were “exposed to threats of racial violence, such as nooses, swastikas, KKK garb, racist graffiti, and confederate flags,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges staff members used racial slurs and other racially charged language against black workers:
“UIUC supervisors and other employees frequently use racial slurs and offensive stereotypes, calling black employees ‘n*ggers,’ ‘boy,’ ‘monkey,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘angry,’ ‘rowdy,’ and ‘Aunt Jemima,’ and using other offensive racial language.”
Attorney Joshua Friedman, who represents the plaintiffs, said the U of I’s non-discrimination policy allows this kind of harassment because the campus considers these incidents not severe or pervasive enough to violate the policy.
The lawsuit also claims the U of I’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Access (now known as the Office For Access and Equity or OAE) — the department in charge of investigating discrimination claims — is itself “rife with internal racial harassment.”
“It’s like stepping into a wormhole, to a time before the Civil Rights Act,” said attorney Joshua Friedman, who represents the black plaintiffs suing U of I. “We’re talking about racial slurs, including the N-word, racial symbols, symbols of the Confederacy – nooses, which are violent threats to kill African Americans because of the color of their skin. KKK garb. Swastikas.”
Friedman said his firm sees harassment cases, but this is different.
“We’re usually talking about shipyards or industrial employers. I’ve never seen anything on this scope before at a university.”
It was three years ago when a noose and swastikas were found at U of I. A groundskeeper was fired, but some African American employees like Atiba Flemons said employees are still harassed because of their race. And he said the university lets it happen.
The full lawsuit is here.
* U of Illinois still in search of new chief diversity officer: The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that Chancellor Robert Jones told search committee members last month that the goal is to make a decision by the end of the academic year in May. Jones originally hoped to hire someone for the job early this semester.