‘You Hired A White Woman?’: Staff Member Sues College After She Was Allegedly Demoted For Her Race

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Julianna Frieman Contributor
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A staff member sued the college she was employed at Dec. 14 after she was allegedly demoted for her race, the New York Post (NYP) reported.

Rochelle Hoffman, who was promoted as the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s interim director of the campus’ Multicultural Student Services office, filed a lawsuit claiming she was demoted after students complained to former Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Affairs Olga Diaz about Hoffman’s race, according to the NYP. Students reportedly told Diaz a white woman was not equipped to serve in a role created to benefit minorities.

“You hired a white woman as the interim director?” one aggrieved student questioned, according to a federal complaint against the university obtained by the NYP.

“Do you personally feel white staff can do as an effective job as a person of color, within a space for people of color?” another student asked, according to the complaint.

Hoffman allegedly faced hostility and fellow staff members allegedly questioning her “legitimacy” following her promotion, the complaint said, according to the outlet. She worked for the university’s Blugold Beginnings office six years prior to being promoted after the office, which served “underrepresented, low-income and first-generation students,” fused with the UW-Eau Claire Office of Multicultural Affairs last year, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. (RELATED: Deadspin Removes Photographs Of Child Accused Of Racism After Parents Threatened To Sue)

“Despite Hoffman’s exceptional qualifications, however, students, faculty and staff opposed her appointment to Interim Director of MSS solely because she was white,” the complaint alleged, according to the NYP. “It was exclusively Hoffman’s identity as white that was the issue; criticism was about her race and color, not her qualifications.”

Hoffman’s performance review said she “exceeds expectations” and was rated as “outstanding” while working in Blugold Beginnings and the Multicultural Student Services, the outlet reported.

 A UW-Eau Claire spokesperson and the UW-Claire Board of Regents refused to comment on the pending lawsuit, according to the NYP.