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University Allegedly Overlooked Sex Harassment to Avoid Race Discrimination

Associate Professor Monica Miller claims Lehigh University made her a “sacrificial lamb to its own racial agenda” when addressing sexual harassment by the head of the Africana studies program. Several women accused Dr. James Braxton Peters of sexual harassment. He resigned from the school following an investigation into those claims of sexual assault and other misconduct. Before the investigation and his resignation, it is alleged that Lehigh ignored his sexual misconduct for years so that it would appear diverse and progressive. He was hired shortly after the school had been accused by students of failing to respond to growing racism on campus.
Following Peterson’s resignation, Miller was promoted into his position. She has asserted that she lacked the experience to successfully fill that role and that a more senior professor, who was white, should have received the role. When Miller took on the role, she alleges that she was subjected to “a hostile environment of intimidation and harassment.” She believes that Lehigh wanted to “navigate any racial fallout from Peterson’s departure by making [Miller] the substitute black faced figurehead that Peterson had been.” The stress from the position allegedly forced Miller to go on sabbatical from 2016-2017.
Lehigh did not comment on the specific allegations but asserted its commitment to an environment free of discrimination. Currently, two other lawsuits are pending against the school. A former director of academic diversity claims that she was subjected to a hostile work environment because she is black and a former assistant professor alleges he was denied tenure because he is Asian.