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For Years, Bard College Protected Racial Harassers and Alleged Sexual Predators on its Privileged Upstate New York Campus
Attorneys: Larry Organ, Esq (415) 453-4740; Avery Gilbert (845) 380-6265;
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY – Bard College: Black guests held at gunpoint. Reports of sexual assaults that went uninvestigated. Employment decisions based on race. Black and Brown scholarship students marginalized, relegated to a dirty basement, and offered fried chicken, Kool-Aid, and watermelon. An insular, nearly all-White faculty and administration. A lone Black administrator fired for whistleblowing and daring to ask that Bard provide Title IX accommodations to a Black student who survived a campus rape. A blockbuster complaint filed in Federal court today has it all—reading like a potential sequel to “Get Out” set at Bard College in the quaint Hudson Valley hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson.
The six-count suit against Bard College details racial discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination. The Plaintiff, a Black female professor and administrator, who remains unnamed in the complaint, was a sounding board and refuge for students of color on campus. For many years she alerted Bard senior faculty and administrators that students of color felt marginalized, discarded and discriminated against. She grew appalled by Bard’s failure to support students who bravely came forward with sexual assault and harassment allegations, urging the College to do more than silence victims to protect its public image. Rather than lauding Plaintiff Doe’s efforts to protect students and address racism and sexual assault at Bard College, Bard retaliated against her.
Plaintiff Doe endured over a decade of egregious racist, sexist, and homophobic conduct by Bard faculty and senior administrators. Bard professors called Plaintiff Doe “feral” and “arrogant.” Plaintiff Doe was denied promotions and told “not to think so much” of herself “for her pedigree,” referencing her multiple Ivy League degrees, while lesser-qualified White employees were promoted—including a senior administrator who assaulted Plaintiff’s partner. Bard unapologetically had her African American guest lecturers held at gunpoint by state police in the middle of the night. The College denied Plaintiff Doe the office security other White administrators were given despite knowing she was the subject of violent racist attacks on campus and had received emails— through Bard email— headed What’s up n**ger b**ch,” and “GO BACK TO AFRICA you f-ing C*NTS.”
Numbers don’t lie. From 2009 to 2019, all but one of Bard’s seventeen vice-presidents were White. From 2009 to the beginning of 2018, no Black person sat on Bard’s powerful “Executive Committee.” The complaint alleges that average tenure of Black and Latinx administrators at Bard College is three years while the average tenure for White administrators is three decades. An anonymous survey of Bard administrators of color suggests this tenure disparity is due to Bard’s hostile work environment for people of color.
“I spent years trying to change this culture from the inside, seeing Bard systematically marginalize Black and Brown students and enduring every imaginable form of workplace discrimination. When students informed me of sexual misconduct and racial harassment by powerful administrators and faculty, I reported the allegations to the college time and again but no action was taken other than to retaliate against me. The only forum left to me is the federal courts,” said the anonymous plaintiff.
“This lawsuit exposes a long history of race-based segregation and discrimination on the Annandale campus of Bard College—it is our hope that by bringing this lawsuit Black and Brown students will have the same opportunity to think and learn on Bard College’s Annandale Campus that White students do and decades of an insular, unaccountable White administrative structure will be addressed,” said Avery Gilbert, the Director of the Strategic Advocacy Clinic who is bringing the case, along with trial-attorney Larry Organ.
Plaintiff is represented by the Strategic Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, the California Civil Rights Law Group, and the Law Office of Avery P. Gilbert. The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York under Docket # 7:22-cv-07258. Attorneys Avery Gilbert and Larry Organ are available for comment. At this time, Plaintiff Doe has chosen to remain anonymous.
The goal of the Strategic Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School is to encourage students to become independent thinkers able to engage multiple avenues of persuasion simultaneously to push for structural change in service of criminal justice reform and democratic function. The clinic provides a real-world laboratory for students to tackle pressing issues related to criminal justice and inequality using a coordinated and interdisciplinary array of advocacy tools including strategic litigation, administrative advocacy, coalition building, media, and communications.
The California Civil Rights Law Group, led by prominent trial attorney Larry Organ, won the largest race harassment verdict in American history in Diaz v. Tesla. CCRLG is dedicated to furthering the cause of employee civil rights by fighting race and sex harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination. Learn more about CCRLG here.