White student sues Howard University for racial discrimination after his expulsion

By Grace Hogsten

Elm Staff Writer

A white student, Michael Newman, is suing the historically Black Howard University for racial discrimination.

According to NBC News, Newman enrolled at Howard University as a law student in the fall of 2020 and was expelled in September of 2022 after making many racist statements, which took the form of forum posts, GroupMe messages, and a tweet.

Some of the first alleged issues began when Newman posted continued discussion of a pre-election symposium. Newman criticized the choices and expectations of Black voters, which caused some of his classmates to reach out to administrators. Newman was subsequently removed from a class GroupMe.

            According to NBC News, Newman later met with administrators to discuss a tweet that many of his classmates had found offensive, which included a historic photo of a slave whose back was scarred from whippings and the caption “But we don’t know what he did before the picture was taken!”

            Although Newman said that he intended the tweet to be a satirical commentary on “excuses” made on behalf of police brutality, this tweet was one statement of many that reflected a disrespectful and discriminatory attitude towards Black people.

            The suit is extensive and details numerous instances in which Newman made offensive statements and refused to consider the viewpoints of his Black classmates.

However, Newman says that he experienced racial discrimination and sustained damage to his reputation and mental state during his two years at the institution.

According to Insider, Newman “argued that he faced ‘discrimination on a scale none of my classmates likely ever experienced’ after he made comments about the Black community that his classmates found offensive.”

Newman, and many other white Americans, believe that racial discrimination against white people is a prominent issue.

According to a poll released by NPR, 55% of white Americans surveyed believed that racial discrimination against white people currently exists in America.

However, studies show that white Americans’ perceptions of this issue and the reality are extremely different.

            According to Scientific American, one study “found that Black applicants got half the call backs that white applicants got with the same qualifications.” These findings translate to other fields, including academia.

Despite Newman’s allegations against the university, Newman’s case is actually an example of a white student who had many chances and opportunities available to him.

According to Insider, Newman attended the university on a scholarship, and although he did lose the scholarship, he did not lose it due to his offensive statements; Newman lost his scholarship due to low academic performance.

Moreover, Newman emailed the entire law school student body multiple times, even after the administration explicitly told him not to do so. Newman repeatedly crossed boundaries to ensure himself a large platform to deliver his opinions.

Newman’s story is not one of a white student facing discrimination from a majorly Black institution; it is that of a white student expelled for repeatedly breaking rules, disrespecting Black peers, faculty, and administrators, and losing valuable opportunities due to his own actions.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo Caption:Former Howard University student Michael Newman, who is white, is suing the institution for racial discrimination.

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