A woman who attended the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is suing the college as well as the non-profit Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation (ILLCF) expelling her and for the withdrawal of a scholarship she’d already won.
The woman, Moriah Elusta, who is a Muslim Latina, said in her lawsuit that initially she was awarded a $2,000 scholarship by the foundation, but subsequently was told by its CEO that she wasn’t eligible for the scholarship because as a Muslim, she didn't qualify as being Latina.
Elusta expected to graduate from UIC in May with about a 3.3. grade point average and was tabbed to receive a scholarship from the ILLCF in November of 2013. The scholarship checks are normally awarded during the foundation's awards ceremony, held on Nov. 22, but, she claims, she could not attend because she was studying for her fall semester finals, according to the Chicago Sun Times. then was told by a high-ranking official at the foundation to meet him for drinks to get the check.
Instead, the suit claims that the foundation CEO, Michael Gonzalez, called Elusta and told her she could claim the check by meeting him for drinks – something that went against the teachings of her faith. The scholarship money, he suggested according to the suit, was from his private funds.
"Mr. Gonzalez added that if plaintiff did not meet with him, he would cause problems for her at UIC,” Reuters reported on Monday.
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Elusta’s father called the foundation to complain, the suit said, and learned that the money, in fact, came from various businesses.
She did not meet with the foundation's chief, the complaint says, and in December, "Mr. Gonzalez contacted plaintiff and stated that he would notify UIC and have her kicked out because he 'had connections.'"
During the spring term the college notified Elusta that she'd been accused of “writing a fake letter of recommendation and posing as her former microbiology professor,” the Sun Times said.
A hearing was set for April, and Elusta claims she requested a postponement that the university denied in order to find an attorney. A week later, she was expelled.
Her suit claims that the ILLCF wrongfully denied her the scholarship, that UIC wrongfully denied her request for an attorney and violated her civil rights in expelling her, the Sun Times reported.
She is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.