CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The University of North Carolina is again facing allegations of racial discrimination as a former graduate student filed a federal lawsuit against UNC's prestigious business school claiming discrimination and retaliation.
UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School is rated No. 19 in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking. The attorney for the former student told ABC11 that she was excelling in the program and was praised for her work--until she spoke up about discrimination.
"This is not someone who failed and who's trying to blame race. This is someone who succeeded and was still kicked out. And that raises all kinds of question marks," said Artur Davis, the attorney for Rose Brown.
Brown, who is Black, is a Kings Mountain native who was accepted and enrolled as a Ph D. candidate in March 2020, the only Black woman in the program at the time.
In her civil suit, filed Tuesday night, Brown said was forced out of the business school one year later after she filed a complaint with the university's Equal Opportunity Compliance Office complaining of a pattern of discriminatory and hostile treatment.
Brown is a graduate of UNC-Charlotte; earned a Master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania -- but said she was told by her advisers in Chapel Hill that she wasn't smart enough and didn't fit in. Davis called that "code language" that Black people still hear even in progressive institutions such as UNC.
"The next president of the United States may be a Black woman. North Carolina's next senator may be an African American female. How is it that we still live in a world where a dynamic Black woman has not given a fair shake at one of the state's top institutions?" Davis said. "That's really an important way to understand this case."
In a statement to ABC11, a UNC spokesperson said, "We are aware of these allegations but unable to comment on the pending litigation at this time. UNC-Chapel Hill strives to provide a positive educational experience for all our students."
The new civil lawsuit comes just over a month after UNC-Chapel Hill settled a separate suit with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones after a controversy over tenure turned into a painful examination of racial inequities at UNC.