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LCC Lawsuit Reverberates with Trump Election

The recent legal settlement between a tenure-track Pakistani-American Lane Community College instructor and the college adds a renewed focus on safety for minorities at LCC in this post-Trump world. 

In the same month that racial and sexual harassment have seen a definite uptick on campuses around the U.S. after Trump was elected, sociology instructor Nadia Raza reached a legal settlement with LCC that contains provisions for college security to go through threat assessment training and other pro-safety measures by May 2017. 

Raza filed a lawsuit against LCC last January, saying the LCC administration had failed to provide security measures to protect her after she repeatedly reported being stalked by an LCC student for four months in 2014. Raza moved out of her home, switched to exclusively teaching online courses and obtained a restraining order against a student the lawsuit refers to as “S.S.” in April 2014. 

S.S. was finally arrested in May 2014 when he was caught at an apartment complex where he told police he was looking for Raza. Today, he is out on probation but still in the Eugene area. Raza continues to teach online courses.

The new settlement, reached Nov. 4 with the help of Raza’s attorneys Meredith Holley and Jennifer Middleton of Johnson, Johnson & Schaller, spells out three conditions the college must meet by May 2017: hire a security company, Sigma Threat Assessment, to create a safety plan for Raza; acquire new and better training for the college’s threat assessment team, which monitors security on the LCC campus; and a new review of the college’s Title IX compliance. 

Raza also receives $175,000 as part of the settlement, $63,200 of which will go to Johnson, Johnson & Schaller. 

“We all hope the settlement is a starting point for creating more safety at Lane for people of color and people of different religions, and for Nadia specifically,” Holley says. 

One specific part of the new settlement mandates that the administration will give summarized data on student conduct cases (such as student harassment) to a new committee of faculty, students and administration for review. 

Raza says she heard from about 10 other women from colleges across the U.S. when she filed the initial lawsuit, sources which told her they, too, had faced harassment and received little protection from their institutions. 

Since Trump was elected on Nov. 8, Raza says students have come to her afraid. 

“I’ve had students reach out to me from immigrant backgrounds. I’ve also had working poor students who identify as white reach out to me as well in deep concern over what this means for their future,” Raza says. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center website reports more than 700 new “hateful incidents of harassment” have occurred in the U.S. since the election. Anti-immigrant hate crimes have the highest percentage and anti-black hate crimes form the second highest. The settlement with LCC, Raza says, is particularly meaningful and particularly poignant at this time in the nation’s history.

“I’ve been thinking about the Trump election and how the case relates to it. People have referred to this election as ‘white-lash,’ as a reaction to the racial progress made over the past eight years. That’s an important analysis,” she says. 

Raza adds, “It is also a patriarchal backlash to feminist organizing addressing sexual violence and gender based harassment,” saying that “the election of a man who boasts of sexual assault has consequences for the very meaning of harassment and safety.”

She says she feels the settlement can set a precedent for the protection of minorities on the LCC campus. 

“I see it as an incredible contribution to the campus in terms of immediate and long-term effects,” Raza says. 

Art Johnson of Johnson, Johnson & Schaller is a part-owner of Eugene Weekly.