The University of Minnesota has settled a lawsuit with a former employee who had complained about the school using suspects’ race in university crime alerts.
Alysia Lajune was hired in 2012 as assistant director of orientation and the transfer experience. In that role, The Pioneer Press reports, she “became concerned about a lack of racial diversity and re-established the Black Faculty and Staff Association.”
She also did not like that UMN crime alerts mentioned the race of suspects because they “often identified suspects as black males.”
This made (black) students and staff “feel less safe and less welcome on campus.”
In 2013 Lajune moved to the Office for Equity and Diversity, and it was during this time when she allegedly insulted school officials during a discussion on racial profiling.
From the audience, Lajune spoke for three and a half minutes, describing her experience of being followed by a police officer in Dinkytown and criticizing [Vice President of University Services Pam] Wheelock for downplaying concerns about racial profiling on campus.
She said it was “a little insulting” for Wheelock to say the U has had no complaints of racial profiling when Lajune’s group had given her numerous examples.
“You don’t need an official report to know that it’s happening,” she said.
Lajune also complained that Wheelock had not included various African-American advocacy groups in discussions about the U’s protocols, calling it “a bit of a slap in the face (that) we’ve never had a seat at the table.”
After the forum, Lajune said, [her boss Katrice] Albert sent text messages to a third party, saying Lajune had “totally gone rogue” and “verbally insulted and assaulted” Wheelock, embarrassing Albert and the equity and diversity office.
A week later, Albert told Lajune she would get a warning letter in her file, which would claim they discussed Lajune’s poor performance weeks prior. That, Lajune said, was a lie.
Lajune claims she suffered anxiety and depression as a result of the ordeal, and attempted suicide in March 2014. Her suit against the university sought compensation for “free-speech violations, lost wages, medical expenses, humiliation, emotional distress and damage to reputation.”
A settlement was reached March 10 for a total of $65,000 — Lajune getting $39,000 and her attorney $26,000.
Although the article states that UMN President Eric Kaler oversaw changes to university crime alert procedures five months after Lajune left, The College Fix reported in mid-2015 that those changes never materialized.