Victory at IUPUI: Student-Employee Finally Vindicated on Racial Harassment Charge

May 1, 2008

Today’s press release covers some great news from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI): Student-employee Keith John Sampson has finally been cleared of the racial harassment finding which was made against him. This thankfully marks the end of a prolonged and embarrassing episode.

Torch readers will recall that Sampson was found guilty of racial harassment for the simple act of reading the book, Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan during his work breaks. IUPUI’s Affirmative Action Office (AAO) responded to a co-worker’s complaint against Sampson by ordering him to cease reading the book in the presence of his co-workers. In the letter informing him of the racial harassment finding, the AAO criticized Sampson for demonstrating “disdain and insensitivity” towards his co-workers and using “extremely poor judgment.”

Thankfully, IUPUI appears to have eventually realized the folly of its ways. In a reply letter to FIRE, Chancellor Charles R. Bantz informs us that the university has revoked its finding against Sampson. Bantz writes that IUPUI “regret[s] this situation took place” and affirms the university’s commitment to upholding freedom of expression. Importantly, the letter also states that the university “will be reexamining the campus-wide affirmative action processes and procedures relating to internal complaints.” This is somewhat heartening to hear after one considers the ways in which the AAO mishandled the entire situation. Finally, Bantz’s letter states that no human resources action was taken by the university’s Office of Human Resources Administration against Sampson, and that the AAO’s letters to Sampson were not at any point part of his personnel file, nor will they be in the future.

It is unfortunate that IUPUI had to come to this point, as Sampson’s case could so easily have been avoided. Nevertheless, the university has finally done the right thing by clearing him of the racial harassment finding. Better late than never, as the saying goes.

Schools:  Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis

Cases:  Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis: Student Employee Found Guilty of ‘Racial Harassment’ for Reading a Book