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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
1 Jul 2023

NextImg:Professor Sues Penn State University for Racial Discrimination

Zack De Piero, a former English writing professor at the Pennsylvania State University, is suing the institution after being subject to racially discriminatory policies at the campus for being white.

“Penn State has implemented a university-wide policy and so-called ‘strategic plan,’ euphemistically labeled ‘anti-racism,’” says the lawsuit (pdf), filed on June 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The policy “singles out white employees for harassment and discrimination under the label of ‘white privilege,’ ‘white supremacy,’ and other racial stereotypes that attribute negative values and characteristics to employees, including but not limited to Zack De Piero, based upon the color of their skin rather than the content of their character,”

The “race-based dogma” at Penn State “demeans and humiliates” white employees at the university while also being “equally corrosive” to black employees and other employees of color.

Penn State portrays black and POC employees as “somehow incapable of eloquent writing, incapable of doing math, incapable of objectivity, incapable of individuality, and incapable of many other acquired traits that Penn State’s official policy deems innate characteristics of ‘white supremacy.’”

According to the lawsuit, De Piero was asked to engage in illegal racial discrimination as a requirement of his job when he was instructed to make sure that students have consistent grades across “color line[s]” or else his actions would be perceived as demonstrating racism. Such demands required De Piero to “penalize students academically on the basis of race.”

“If, for example, students from East Asia or the Indian subcontinent excelled over other minority groups (who often had the same, if not lighter, skin color), De Piero was asked to penalize them in order to equalize outcomes on the basis of race.”

The “antiracist” activism is said to have reached a “new fever pitch” following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

During a conference discussing the matter on June 5, 2020, Alina Wong, who was the Assistant Vice Provost for Educational Equity at the time, declared that “black men and women” as well as “the black trans and queer folks [are] killed by police supremacy, by white supremacy.”

Another defendant, Liliana Naydan, who was the Associate Professor of English and the direct supervisor of De Piero, “instructed her writing faculty to teach that white supremacy exists in language itself, and therefore, that the English language itself is ‘racist’ and, furthermore, that white supremacy exists in the teaching of the writing of English, and therefore writing teachers are themselves racist white supremacists,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit points out that the writing department where De Piero worked was “permeated with racial insults directed at white faculty.” The university asked white faculty members to take part in “training,” where they were made to engage in activities like holding their breath longer than the black faculty so as to “feel the pain.”

White faculty members were also asked to “hold other white people accountable” as well as told that “white teachers are a problem.”

When De Piero complained about the racial insults directed at white faculty, the director of the Affirmative Action Office (AAO) told him that “there is a problem with the white race” and that he should attend “antiracist workshops” until “you get it.” He was also accused of potentially having mental health issues.

Penn State did not make disciplinary and grievance procedures available to De Piero, informing him that this was done so “because of his race,” per the lawsuit. When he voiced objections to the university’s race-based dogma, he was accused of “bullying” and “harassing” them.

“De Piero was forced to work in an abusive environment that became so intolerable that only his resignation qualified as a fitting response. He was constructively terminated and discharged.”

The lawsuit claims that the defendants violated state and federal civil rights laws as well as the First Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Penn State University for comment.

There have been other cases of professors suing educational institutions for punishing them after questioning antiracist ideologies. In December, it was reported that a former professor from the North Carolina Governor’s School filed a lawsuit against the institution after he was fired for speaking about the harms of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

CRT categorizes the population into groups of oppressors and oppressed. Whites are generally classified as the oppressors, while people of other races and identities are grouped as the oppressed, demonizing a section of society.

At the school, an individual who was white, heterosexual, male, cisgender, Christian, able-bodied, and financially stable was classified as the “Prince of Privilege.” Students with “privileged” characteristics were encouraged to identify and confess their privilege to teachers and peers.

Some states have taken action to restrict the spread of such ideologies on campuses. In April last year, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the “Stop Woke Act,” which prohibits businesses and schools across the state from forcing employees or students to believe that they are personally responsible and must feel guilt or shame for past actions committed by members of their race.

A few months later, in July, the University of Central Florida (UCF) took down statements endorsing “anti-racist” ideology from the websites of multiple academic departments.

In January, former President Donald Trump said that he would cut federal funding for schools that teach CRT ideologies if he is reelected in 2024. A policy plan also called for opening new “civil rights investigations into any school district that has engaged in race-based discrimination.”

On June 29, the Supreme Court ruled against Harvard in an affirmative action lawsuit for using race as a factor in the admission process. This decision is expected to have widespread societal implications concerning race-based activities on college campuses as well as corporate boardrooms.