Via Michael Brigham of AAN:

A University of Virginia student is suing the school for banning him from campus as a violent threat after he calmly questioned an official’s definition of “microaggression.”

Reason magazine reports:

Kieran Bhattacharya is a student at the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine. On October 25, 2018, he attended a panel discussion on the subject of microaggressions. Dissatisfied with the definition of a microaggression offered by the presenter—Beverly Cowell Adams, an assistant dean—Bhattacharya raised his hand…

… “Thank you for your presentation,” said Bhattacharya, according to an audio recording of the event. “I had a few questions, just to clarify your definition of microaggressions. Is it a requirement, to be a victim of microaggression, that you are a member of a marginalized group?”

Adams replied that it wasn’t a requirement.

Bhattacharya suggested that this was contradictory, since a slide in her presentation had defined microaggressions as negative interactions with members of marginalized groups. Adams and Bhattacharya then clashed for a few minutes about how to define the term. It was a polite disagreement. Adams generally maintained that microaggression theory was a broad and important topic and that the slights caused real harm. Bhattacharya expressed a scientific skepticism that a microaggression could be distinguished from an unintentionally rude statement.

After the event assistant professor, Nora Kern filed a “professionalism concern card”
against Bhattacharya, claiming he was “quite antagonistic” and showed “so little respect toward faculty members.”

Kern also claimed “his level of frustration/anger seemed to escalate,” a claim which is not supported by recordings of the event, which show Bhattacharya never losing his temper or expressing frustration.

That led to a personal visit by an assistant dean, who claimed “I simply want to help you understand and be able to cope with unintended consequences of conversations.”

When Bhattacharya still failed to submit to liberal dogma, he was ordered to attend mental health counseling and was reported to university police as a violent threat.

Reason reports:

The student was informed that he must be evaluated by psychological services before returning to classes. Bhattacharya repeatedly asked university officials to clarify what exactly he was accused of, under whose authority his counseling had been mandated, and why his enrollment status was suddenly in doubt, according to the lawsuit. These queries only appear to have made UVA officials more determined to punish him: Bhattacharya’s mounting frustration with these baseless accusations of unspecified wrongdoings was essentially treated as evidence that he was guilty. At his hearing, he was accused of being “extremely defensive” and ordered to change his “aggressive, threatening behavior.”

He was ultimately suspended for “aggressive and inappropriate interactions in multiple situations.” On December 30, UVA police ordered him to leave campus.

Bhattacharya is suing the university for violating his First Amendment rights, and courts have ruled he has a case.

“Bhattacharya sufficiently alleges that Defendants retaliated against him,” Judge Norman Moon ruled. “Indeed, they issued a Professionalism Concern Card against him, suspended him from UVA Medical School, required him to undergo counseling and obtain ‘medical clearance’ as a prerequisite for remaining enrolled, and prevented him from appealing his suspension or applying for readmission.”

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

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2 years ago

When I was in college decades ago, teachers welcomed discussion about whatever we studied. They even allowed students to present opposing viewpoints in order to show different approaches and a different understanding of what certain things meant. I never heard anyone disparage anothers ideas and sometimes someone would actually say something like, that is a new approach I’ve never thought of before and it opens a new line of thought to me. Of course, that was before outrage over even a slip of the tongue could get you cancelled. In fact, we didn’t know what cancelling a person meant. More than once the teacher or a student would end a discussion with a statement like, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

David Emerson
David Emerson
2 years ago

I believe the student should seek personal damages from the staff and faculty involved, not just from the University. The university is an impersonal cover for the very personal actions of its faculty and administrators who should be held personally responsible for their actions. I am sure they will say they are just following procedure, BUT that is a delusion. That procedure originates from someone who should be held personally liable for the injuries caused. Personal responsibility should be enforced, not denied.

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