In a recent legal battle that has attracted widespread attention, a former English professor at Pennsylvania State University is suing the institution, alleging racial discrimination against him and other white staff members.
Zack De Piero, a 40-year-old assistant professor of English and Composition, served at Penn State-Abington from 2018 to 2022.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court, details De Piero’s claims of differential treatment, biased grading practices, and the promotion of critical race theory within the university.
According to De Piero’s lawsuit, he asserts that he was compelled to grade Hispanic and Black students differently, citing exercises centered on critical race theory that made white staff members feel “terrible.”
Reported as Discrimination
Additionally, he alleges that he was required to teach that the English language is inherently racist and embodies white supremacy, which contradicted his personal beliefs as the son of first-generation Italian immigrants.
De Piero contends that his family’s experiences of discrimination instilled a lifelong commitment to treating all Americans equally.
When De Piero reported his perceived discrimination to university officials, he claims they retaliated by filing a bullying and harassment complaint against him and lowering his scores on his annual performance review.
Being White Seemed Like a Sin
The lawsuit further alleges that the director of the Affirmative Action Office made derogatory remarks about the white race, instructing De Piero to attend “antiracist” workshops.
Some of these workshops, according to court filings, included a presentation titled “white teachers are a problem.”
De Piero, in an interview, expressed frustration at feeling inherently flawed due to his white identity. He described an environment at the university that imposed a sense of original sin on white individuals, compelling them to continually repent for their historical actions.
Grading Quality Measured Favor Some Ethnic Groups
Despite his dedication to working with underprivileged and marginalized communities, De Piero found himself demeaned based on characteristics beyond his control.
The lawsuit also highlights Liliana Naydan, to whom De Piero reported. The court filing claims that Naydan attempted to introduce grading equity measures.
The lawsuit further accuses the university of harboring low expectations for Black and Hispanic students, excusing their academic deficiencies, and discriminating against faculty members, particularly white faculty members.
Characterizing Teachers as Supremacists
One particular discrimination involved former equity officer Alina Wong, who allegedly led a breathing exercise implying that white staff should hold their breath longer than people of color to “feel the pain that George Floyd endured.”
De Piero claims that Naydan instructed writing faculty members to teach that white supremacy exists within the language itself, positing that the English language is inherently racist.
This, according to the lawsuit, led to the characterization of writing teachers as racist white supremacists.
Furthermore, Naydan allegedly endorsed the view that racism against white people is not racism.
Penn State declined to provide specific remarks on the ongoing litigation.
However, the university has previously affirmed its commitment to diversity, equity, and creating an inclusive environment for all members of its community.
Following his departure from Penn State, De Piero now works as an assistant professor of English at Northampton Community College.
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “Wish I was a part of the lawsuit because I’d sue them and become a millionaire. Racism towards whites is most prevalent in college.”
Another user commented, “And, yet, Penn State is supported with taxpayers’ dollars. Why do we allow this?”
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pathdoc. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.
Source: Daily Mail