The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is being sued by a black former student who is alleging that faculty members in the business school engaged in racial discrimination, and that she faced retaliation after she reported them.
Rose Brown says in her lawsuit that she was pushed out of UNC Chapel Hill’s business program after she reported racial discrimination by the school’s faculty members, according to a report by NBC News.
The 28-year-old former student claims UNC Chapel Hill faculty at the school’s Kenan-Flagler Business School belittled her competence, scolded her after she was allegedly sexually assaulted, and encouraged her to underpay black research participants.
“It was torture in a lot of ways. I was ostracized from a faculty standpoint. I was continuously berated with various comments,” Brown told NBC News. “It was humiliating. It was disheartening. It broke me down every day. I had panic attacks every time I went to school.”
The lawsuit also reportedly names professors Shimul Melwani, Sreedhari Desai, and Michael Christian, as well as the university and its board of governors.
Brown said faculty members did not include a photo of her — the only black woman in the Ph.D. program at the time — in the program’s portfolio of candidates, and singled her out in an email, writing that advice for graduate students could be helpful, “especially for Rose.”
The former student also alleged that she faced “racism and sexism” after she asked for extensions on her assignments, because she had to attend court hearings for her domestic violence protective orders. Brown said she ended up missing a seminar due to the court hearings, and that Melwani and Christian reacted by criticizing her, with one of them calling her “disrespectful.”
Meanwhile, Brown’s white colleagues received “scheduling accommodations for reasons ranging from personal crises to writer’s block with no penalty or consequence,” the lawsuit claims.
“They knew why I was going to court. They knew everything. And that was held against me,” Brown said of Melwani and Christian.
UNC Chapel Hill spokesperson Page Sagester said the school “strives to provide a positive educational experience for all our students,” adding that university officials are unable to comment on the pending litigation.