Do you remember the story that we shared before about the professor who faced a nine-month investigation for asking questions during a white fragility training session? If so, this story will serve as the perfect bookend to that horrific tale. The incident that we are going to discuss today took place at the University of Virginia back in 2018.
Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya is a medical student who decided to push back against a professor who was offering up their take on racial relations. It was a panel on microaggressions and it was being led by the professor in question. Court Listener has a transcript of how this discussion began:
During the event, UVA Professor Beverly Colwell Adams, Ph.D., gave a roughly seventeen-minute presentation about her research on microaggressions, and
Bhattacharya asked Adams some questions. Id. The exchange began:
Bhattacharya: Hello. Thank you for your presentation. I had a few questions just to clarify your definition of microaggressions. Is it a requirement, to
be a victim of microaggression, that you are a member of a marginalized group?
Adams: Very good question. And no. And no—
Bhattacharya: But in the definition, it just said you have to be a member of a marginalized group—in the definition you just provided in the last slide. So that’s contradictory.
Adams: What I had there is kind of the generalized definition. In fact, I extend it beyond that. As you see, I extend it to any marginalized group, and sometimes it’s not a marginalized group. There are examples that you would think maybe not fit, such as body size, height, [or] weight. And if that is how you would like to see me expand it, yes, indeed, that’s how I do.
Bhattacharya: Yeah, follow-up question. Exactly how do you define marginalized and who is a marginalized group? Where does that go? I mean, it seems extremely nonspecific.
Adams: And—that’s intentional. That’s intentional to make it more nonspecific…
This is what people are being forced to endure. Adams wanted to keep defending the work but Bhattacharya had more to say. He may not have agreed with what she had to say but the exchange remained polite throughout. A different professor decided that this was not acceptable.
The professor decided that they needed to file a “Professionalism Concern Card” against Bhattacharya. This is not a move that can or should be taken lightly. The consequences for a student can be dire and this is not something that should be done on a whim.
The student was not directly informed about what was taking place. None of the concerns were expressed in an open and honest manner. Professors got challenged and decided that they needed to make the student suffer. This goes against everything that our secondary learning institutions should be standing for. The medical school’s assistant dean would soon contact the student to set up a meeting.
They tried their best to rattle him but they couldn’t pull it off. The earlier exchange was never even discussed. Instead, he says that they wanted to know his views about “various social and political issues—including
sexual assault, affirmative action, and the election of President Trump.”
From there, he received a letter that recommended that he receive counseling! Within a few short weeks, this recommendation morphed into a requirement. It won’t surprise anyone to learn that he was suspended from school not long after. Bhattacharya was eventually forced to sue, as a means of rectifying the situation. For their part, the school is claiming that he made threats online and this was the real reason for the suspension.
However, they have yet to provide any form of proof on this. They have not told the court when the threats were made or even when they were posted. This case hinges on those threats and they are not playing fair. They are attempting to remain as vague as possible. These allegations are not probable cause to derail a student’s career before it starts.