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Former University Of Hartford Professor Suing School For Discrimination

University of Hartford.

UPDATE, appended 4/26/19.

A former philosophy professor from the University of Hartford is suing the school after he said he was stalked by a student with a mental illness for seven years, and the university failed to protect him.

Professor Travis Tucker, who's black, said that a white professor had also complained about the same student-stalker and the university handled that case. The professor claims the university denied him tenure in retaliation against him for raising this discrimination concern. He was later terminated after he was denied tenure.

In court documents, Tucker’s suit alleges that the university violated sexual harassment and discrimination statutes. Molly Polk, a spokesperson for the university, declined to comment on the case, saying the university would respond in court.

“It is important to note that the University takes all allegations seriously,” Polk said in an emailed statement, adding that the school “remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the law, and takes appropriate action to investigate and address all student, faculty and staff complaints pursuant to federal, state and local laws."

Tucker also said the university colluded with campus police to cover up an alleged hate crime the day after last year's presidential election. Tucker said he found the words “They Lied About Hitler” written on a restroom wall, next to two hand-drawn swastikas.

According to Tucker, he told the administration and campus police about it, but university leaders failed to mention the incident directly in communications with students and faculty that were aimed at affirming “community values.”

This is the second high-profile case over the last week for the university. Last week, a white University of Hartford student was expelled for harassing and bullying her black roommate, and she could be facing a hate crime charge. Many students raised concerns that the university didn't handle that incident well, either.

Alexia Maitland, a senior and president of the Black Student Union on campus, earlier told WNPR that the campus has a culture of secrecy.

"I feel like the university -- whenever there's something they think can affect their public image, it's swept under the rug," Maitland said.

University officials maintain that they’ve complied with all legal requirements, and that they notified campus police of the bullying as soon as they became aware. However, police records show that the university might have known about a dispute between the roommates a week before it was reported to police.

UPDATE: The lawsuit was settled in February 2018 for an undisclosed amount. Tucker is now the executive director of a non-profit called Students of Character. 

The University of Hartford’s Hartt School is an underwriter for WNPR.

David finds and tells stories about education and learning for WNPR radio and its website. He also teaches journalism and media literacy to high school students, and he starts the year with the lesson: “Conflicts of interest: Real or perceived? Both matter.” He thinks he has a sense of humor, and he also finds writing in the third person awkward, but he does it anyway.

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