Howard University is being sued by a white student who was expelled from its law school. The student accuses the establishment of a hostile environment and racial discrimination.
Plaintiff Michael Ray Newman, who attended the Howard University School of Law in fall 2020 after having received a $26,250 annual scholarship, was expelled about two years later in September.
The lawsuit, which Newman’s attorney filed Feb. 16 in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, says he suffered “emotional, mental and economic harm” and seeks more than $2 million in damages.
The lawsuit stems from events that began in 2020 when Newman participated in a public debate and discussion on a professor’s forum page.
After Newman expressed his disagreement with the Black community in a previous GroupMe chat, saying, “they believe government solves problems,” whereas he saw government only as “causing problems,” he decided to move the discussion to the forum, as evidenced by court documents.
“While the university declines to comment on pending litigation substantively, the University is prepared to vigorously defend itself in this lawsuit and that the claims provide a one-sided and self-serving narrative of the events leading to the end of the student’s enrollment”
Frank Tramble, a vice president and the chief communications officer for Howard, said
According to Tramble, Newman engaged in “a pattern of antagonizing actions against other students” at the law school. He gives the death of a law student as an example of how Newman used it to “further his views on COVID-19 and the vaccines.” He was then expelled for “disruptive and harassing conduct,” per the university’s rules of conduct.
The lawsuit claims Newman also compared himself in a Zoom chat box as a white student at a historically Black university to a Black student attending a predominantly white school, saying he felt “utterly disenfranchised.”
After both incidents, many of Newman’s classmates contacted school administrators and sought his expulsion, some even complaining that the controversies he caused distracted from their studies, according to the suit.