‘Hostile Educational Environment’: Student Sues Howard University School Of Law For $2 Million

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A student at Howard University School of Law is suing the university for $2 million, citing “emotional anguish and damage to his reputation.”

Michael Newman claims that he suffered from “humiliation” and “public ostracism” during his time at the law school and the administrators told him that white people could not suffer from racism, according to the lawsuit. He also claims that he was accused of “virtual blackface” and being a “mayo king.”

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 16, claims that Newman’s problems stemmed from questioning commonly accepted ideologies surrounding race at Howard, which then resulted in mistreatment and isolation from his peers and the faculty.

He claims his troubles began when he called into question the black community’s relationship with government policy in a post on the law school cohort’s GroupMe.

“Where I part with the black community is where they believe government solves problems, I only see it causing problems,” he said, according to the lawsuit. (RELATED: Here’s What Students At A Historically Black College Think Of Ralph Northam’s Blackface Controversy)

He subsequently asked, according to the lawsuit, if black people ever questioned government solutions and whether voting for one party in such large numbers disincentivized both parties from delivering results for the community. The conversation then allegedly moved to a forum on a law school professor’s page.

Newman’s lawsuit claims that some of the students became upset with his commentary, which resulted in him being reported to administrators and then removed from his law school section’s GroupMe chat.

“You are way outta pocket and I hope [the professor] drags you for filth,” the lawsuit accuses a fellow student of saying.

Newman also talked about his experiences in being a white student at a predominately black institution, claiming that he feels “disenfranchised.” Other students were offended by his commentary and called on him to apologize. He acquiesced to the demands, according to the lawsuit. He also claims that a professor spent an entire section talking about his perceived racial insensitivities, which he says left him with mental anguish.

Newman sent out a series of letters to his cohort via email with a link to a Larry Elder documentary called “Uncle Tom,” in an apparent attempt to remedy the situation. The letters were received very poorly by his peers.

A student shared a post found on Newman’s private Twitter account in which he tweeted a picture of a black man with a badly scarred back, captioned, “But we don’t know what he did before the picture was taken!” Newman claimed that the caption was meant to mock those who minimize police brutality, but many of his classmates were offended by the post, according to the lawsuit.

Danielle Holley, dean of Howard University School of Law, allegedly did not take Newman’s claims of racial discrimination seriously in his meetings with her. According to the lawsuit, Holley secretly recorded a Zoom meeting without his knowledge and accused him of “racially harassing” his classmates. She also claimed that mayonnaise isn’t a racial slur and that Newman wasn’t afforded First Amendment rights due to Howard’s status as a private university.

During a virtual town hall to discuss Newman’s behavior, Holley allegedly criticized his letter and called them “disturbing.” Newman allegedly could not defend himself due to his camera and microphone being deactivated. Holley then sent a complaint about Newman, accusing him of “harassment” and “disturbance” of the university. Newman accused Holley of discrimination.

Newman was expelled from the law school after a panel reviewed Holley’s complaint and found him responsible. He appealed, but the ruling was upheld.