Monday, May 5, 2008

Dartmouth Professor Threatens to Sue Students

1st\NW Quadrant The Approval Matrix

By The Daily News

A Dartmouth College writing teacher angered by students who didn't agree with her in class is threatening to sue them for discrimination.

Priya Venkatesan, who taught freshman writing at the Ivy League school from July 2005 until last month, ignited an uproar on campus Sunday after she sent a bizarre e-mail warning students she planned to sue them.

"I regret to inform you that I am pursuing a lawsuit in which I am accusing some of you (whom shall go unmentioned in this e-mail) of violating Title VII of anti-federal discrimination laws," she wrote in a message that contained several typos.

"I am also writing a book detailing my experiences as your instructor, which will 'name names,' so to speak. I have all of your evaluation and these will be reproduced in the book. Have a nice day."

Realizing that she cannot actually sue her students for employment discrimination, Venkatesan now says she will merely name them in her list of grievances in a suit she plans against Dartmouth.

"I have a whole list of instances that I felt I was subject to unprofessional behavior," she said. "Gosh darn it, it could have been motivated by race and gender."

Her biggest complaint is about the students in her 2008 writing class, who she said asked questions "in a very demeaning way." When another student stepped in to answer for her, she said he "would be received with respect and deference that I was not."

At one point, the class applauded a student who strongly disagreed with her postmodernism views.


Rob said...

Obviously a baseless frivolous suit. The reality is that this sort of suit would face immediate dismissal by the EEOC - whether it's against her students or the college. I doubt she could find an attorney to represent her, and especially not on a contingency. These suits are expensive and can run tens of thousands of dollars to bring. In then end, I think a court would dismiss this and probably sanction her for filing a frivolous suit.

Sadly, stupid people like this get lots of press while most lawsuits get little or no publicity.

ibrahim said...


Good point, and observation!

Anonymous said...

May be this case is frivolous, but the fact is that at Dartmouth in the last years there have been many cases of alleged discrimination especially involving women and minorities, strange tenure cases, and other matters enough for sure to cover various books. There is a special "Dartmouth culture" with which minorities do not feel welcome at all, and a lot of faculty and administrators have left due to "philosophical differences" with the current leadership.

Anonymous said...

"in the last years there have been many cases of alleged discrimination especially involving women and minorities"

Dear Anon, yes there have. Only problem is they've all come from miss Venkatesan.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon II,

Below is a brief list of faculty who have been mistreated at Dartmouth in the last few years, and had to leave or decided to resign. Please feel free to check on Google their specific case (including a professor suing Dartmouth for discrimination).

John Appleton
Ronald Edforth
Arjun Heimsat
Bruce Donald
Jennifer Groh
Laura Anne Petitto
Kevin Dunbar
Amy Anderson
Dennis Wright
Yale Cohen
Mary-Ann Mycek
Yeong-Ah Soh
Mara Sabinson (suing the college, please go on Google under "Mara Sabinson, Plaintiff v. Trustees of Dartmouth College)

and many others.

Two directors of the office of equal opportunity and afformative action resigned respectively in 2006 and 2007.

There has been a controversy about Native indians, in Fall 2006.

The chances to get tenure at Dartmouth are much higher if a faculty is wasp.
No-wasp faculty are welcome only to fill statistics for the federal agencies, then many are suggested to leave because they "do not fit the place and the Dartmouth culture" (this are real words often used by the deanery).

The case of miss Venkatesan, who has been crucified in many terrifying blogs, is typical at Dartmouth.

By the way, why Dartmouth is relying on external and temporary professors if it consider itself the best teaching institution in the Universe ??

Parents should consider to send their kids in more balanced and less racist institutions, and the federal government should monitor more discrimination on campus.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all above, as a former administrator I can tell that Dartmouth now is in extremely bad shape, not able to compete with research universities, not able to compete with true, real colleges where teaching is valued. Rather, Dartmouth gets rid easily of faculty who are excellent teachers, and tends to keep the very weak ones: the eval forms for instance do not play any positive role in the tenure decision, only confidential letters easy to manipulate or dismiss. The administration is on the defensive, with all the involved people helping each other to survive in spite of many criticisms from students, faculty, and alumni. My prediction is that they will not find any reasonable candidate from outside, and that they will choose current Dean Folt, responsible for major disasters, including a massive exodus of good professors.
What a pity for such a school, it will sink right away.

Anonymous said...

Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.

- Kris