Baltimore, MD — Howard University, a historically Black university in Washington, D.C., is being sued by a white student who was expelled from its law school. He claims that he experienced race discrimination and had to deal with a hostile environment while pursuing his education.
Michael Newman started at the law school in 2020 on a $26,250 annual scholarship. He alleges that he experienced racial discrimination due to him being a minority on campus.
The lawsuit claims Newman also compared himself in a Zoom chat box as a white student at a historically Black university to a Black student attending a predominantly white school, saying he felt “utterly disenfranchised,” according to NBC News.
He is suing for $2 million in damages due to “emotional, mental and economic harm,” according to the lawsuit filed on Feb. 16.
Shortly after enrolling in school, issues arose when Newman’s views did not align with his other classmates, which included some racially insensitive tweets. Newman posted some of his viewpoints in the classes GroupMe and classroom discussion board where students are allowed to to share opinions, the lawsuit stated.
He made a post in GroupMe “disagreeing with the Black community, saying “they believe government solves problems,” countering his belief that he saw it only as “causing problems,” according to court documents.” He was met with backlash. He also was removed from the GroupMe after complaining about the lack of inclusivity at Howard due to him being a minority.
According to the lawsuit, Newman became aware a student found a racist tweet in January of 2021 on his private Twitter account. He made a post on July 30, 2020, “that reproduced a well-known image of emancipated slave ‘Gordon’ baring his very badly scarred back.” In the post tweeted N"But we don't know what he did before the picture was taken!" A former classmate then retweeted the post to bring awareness to what he said to other Howard students.
Newman verbally apologized for the tweet but he was met with backlash. He was prompted to meet with the law school Dean Danielle Holley and Reggie McGahee, Howard’s global head of diversity recruiting. He was then advised to transfer from the school and was “accused of racially harassing students,” according to the lawsuit.
Frank Tramble, a vice president and the chief communications officer for Howard, said that Newman displayed “a pattern of antagonizing actions against other students' ' who were attending the law school. Newman was ultimately expelled for “disruptive and harassing conduct” which is against the school’s policy.
The hearing for this case will be held on April 21.