The California Department of Justice concluded a white student was discriminated against and harassed by a Native American lecturer at San Diego State University.
A six-month investigation by the department determined that then-student Crystal Sudano was discriminated against based on race and faced racial harassment and retaliation after challenging the professor’s views.
A 51-page report was first obtained by the Daily Aztec, the university’s student newspaper, which outlined the allegations and conclusions of the probe.
Sudano reportedly lodged four complaints against her Native American and Chicano professor, Oscar “Ozzie” Monge, accusing him of racial harassment and retaliation, and discrimination based on a disability and race.
Only one accusation – discrimination on the basis of a disability – was dismissed as having insufficient evidence, according to the student paper.
Offensive Facebook messages
The investigation reportedly found that the professor sent at least 15 offensive Facebook messages to the then-student, including one that threatened to lower her grade after she voiced her views about the school’s Aztec Mascot.
Monge, according to the Washington Examiner, is a vocal advocate of getting rid of the university’s Aztec mascot and moniker, alleging they represent cultural appropriation.
The University Senate voted in November to end the use of the mascot, but the vote was disputed because it came just seven months after the Associated Students council voted to keep it, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
In Facebook messages, he accused the student of being “racist” for wearing an Aztec mascot T-shirt and said she appropriated culture when she wore her hair in braids.
The professor also complained about the make-up of the university’s student union, telling the student that “The AS (Associated Students) is something else that confuses me … the way it’s structured, the way it runs and how damned white it is.”
The student challenged the professor’s views, saying that “The idea is that everyone no matter how low on the totem pole you are, shared governance is what gives the lowest man the right to share his opinion and for that opinion to be heard.”
Monge then criticized Sudano, saying she should not use the phrase “totem pole” and went on to lash out against other students in the group, calling one an “Uncle Tom” and others “Frat Bros and Sorority Sisters … who do not easily empathize with non-whiteness,” the student paper reported.
After the feud escalated on Facebook, Monge blocked the student – but only after he brought up the issue of her grades, threatening to lower them.
“Monge retaliated against Sudano … after she complained to (him) about his discriminatory and harassing conduct, and appeared to undermine Monge’s thesis in the mascot resolution debate,” the California DOJ report read. “Monge told Sudano that her grade would be lowered, ultimately causing her to seek a constructive withdrawal from (his) class.”
Monge denied any wrongdoing, writing to the investigators that “It is quite easy to argue that ‘whiteness’ is synonymous with evil.”
San Diego State released a statement about the investigation, but did not address the probe, stating only that it “does not discuss pending matters due to privacy rights of all parties involved and to protect the integrity of the review process,” the Examiner reported.