Harris-Stowe State University’s College of Education was ordered to pay a $4.8 million settlement in a lawsuit, after former professor Beverly Wilkins proved she was fired for being white. There could be many more settlements on the way as the college fired every single white professor but one and he was protected by tenure. During that time, only one black professor was fired and that followed his conviction for sex crimes.
Wilkins contended that the trouble began in 2007, when Latisha Smith was hired by the college. Smith got two quick promotions, as assistant dean and then dean of the College of Education. Wilkins claims and the court confirmed that Smith subscribed to the “Black Power” ideology and quickly began purging the college of all whites, with the exception of the tenured professor.
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The college made the claim that she was let go because of the budget, but that story quickly fell apart after it was discovered that two black professors were hired to teach Wilkins’ classes at a combined salary above what Wilkins had been paid.
What sank Smith and the college were emails that Smith tried unsuccessfully to destroy. One email was especially damning. It was written by a black instructor to Smith and it reads:
“I am floored to know that we have an interim leader that has voiced her prejudice so openly to me and others.”
Smith was removed as dean but not before her actions assured that the college would be on the hook for million in compensation for discrimination. Wilkins was awarded 1.35 million for lost wages and emotional distress and another 3.5 million in punitive damages. The judge could modify the award if the college appeals.
It’s good to see that White Lives Matter, too.
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