Dear Mr. Duke:
In the fall of 1994, I (a white American) began studying at American University in Washington, DC. At the time, I lived on campus with my Japanese roommate. I lived with him for a year and a half. In the spring of 1996, he and I started to develop problems living together. One day, while in the restroom speaking with another student, I made the comment that ‘we should just nuke the f******,' in reference to the Japanese. Little did I know at the time, my roommate was standing outside and overheard the comment. A few days later he moved out of the room we shared.
After that, I started to receive harassing calls. I would have unknown Japanese students knocking on my door in the middle of the night. Later, I had my property destroyed with a note from a Japanese student that he would drop a bomb on me. This was then reported to and filed with campus security.
A few days later, I had numerous charges of ‘threats, harassment, and intimidation' filed against me not by my roommate but the floor's Resident Assistant [RA]. In a meeting with him and the Area Director [AD] (a black immigrant from Africa), I asked how I ‘threatened' my roommate -- the AD stated ‘It was because he felt threatened.' I was also told not to go near my roommate or further charges would be filed.
I then contested the filing of the charges with the Director of Judicial Affairs (a black woman) who then had the RA amend the charges to represent my creating a ‘threatening' environment for the residents on the entire floor. This was done to justify the RA filing the charges rather than my ex-roommate, since I could not counter-file charges against the RA, who represented the university [in other words, they wanted to make sure he was powerless to resist this racial persecution]. I was also told by the director that this was being viewed as a ‘racial' incident.
At the time I was home on Spring Break. Due to all the stress created by the charges and a scheduled judicial hearing -- where I faced potentially being expelled from the university -- under medical advice I did not return to the university the rest of the semester. By not returning the situation escalated further.
Because I was enrolled full time, I drove 3.5 hours to Washington to meet with my professors concerning my classes and would return home. Unfortunately, I was not able to meet with all of them. I then requested the assistance of the dean of the business school to attempt to get incompletes for my classes. The incompletes were given with the forms signed on my behalf by the dean; however, that information was never provided to me. I thus failed the courses.
While at home, I would receive harassing phone calls from the Office of Judicial Affairs. On one message I was told I was a ‘liar' when I had told the director I was no longer living at the university because I had been ‘seen' on campus. When I returned to the university to get my possessions out of my dorm room, I was greeted by six security officers. I was escorted to my room, allowed to get my things and then taken to the campus security office, where I was photographed and told that if I ever step foot in the dorm again, I will be arrested by the DC police for ‘criminal trespassing.' Apparently, at the request of the RA, I had been ‘barred' from the dorm but yet was never provided this information. I had requested the information from security regarding the request the RA had made but they refused to provide it, stating it could be ‘libel.'
In the fall of 1996, my [Japanese] roommate and I spend the semester studying abroad in London. I made various offices at the university aware of the charges and that he and I would be together. I was told I would be allowed to go, but should there be any ‘problems,' I would be immediately sent back to the United States and none of what I paid for that semester would be refunded. Then, after speaking with the Director of Residential Life the charges were dropped. She stated that my roommate would be going back to Japan and without their ‘key witness' they had no case. Additionally, she basically stated that next time I should keep my mouth shut, saying ‘think before you speak.'
During all of my communication with the university, I was told that everything was being done on my roommate's behalf. However, at the end of 1996, the director of the London program, my roommate, and I had the first opportunity to discuss what had occurred. My roommate admitted it was not racial, that he was just angry because we were having problems living together, and that it was the RA that approached him initially. Furthermore, everything that had happened to me on his ‘behalf' he was totally unaware of.
In the spring of 1997, I was supposed to graduate from American. However, given the status of my courses from the spring of 1996, that was in doubt. Upon returning to campus, I was informed that although the charges had been dropped, the barring from the dorm had not been. Additionally, the university's ‘solution' to my classes was for me to ‘sit in' on the courses and retake them and then I could graduate in the fall of 1997. However, this apparently was not ‘officially' sanctioned by the Registrar's Office.
Given a year's worth of threats, harassment, and intimidation by the university, I believed it to be nothing but a hostile environment at that point. I then submitted the paperwork to the university to withdraw. However, because of the ‘reasons' for my withdrawal, the dean refused to sign the paperwork. To this day, I do not know when or how I was withdrawn since they refused to provide me that information.
A year later, I then received information from the Department of Education [DOE] concerning my financial aid. According to their records, I had borrowed several thousand dollars for the spring 1997 semester. I had informed them that I had withdrawn and therefore did not borrow the money. They had no record of this. Apparently, there was a ‘glitch' in the computer system according to the university. The money eventually was refunded to DOE but not within the 30 days required by law. I then filed a complaint with the DOE's Office of Civil Rights given everything that had happened. However, since my complaint was being filed after the180 day limit from the first incident, it was not accepted.
Upon withdrawing from American, I then spent another 2.5 years in school to finish my degree by transferring to a local community college and then to the University of Miami in Florida. By doing so, I also put myself in debt another $30,000 on top of the $30,000 borrowed to attend American.
While I have not been at American for years, the loans have been a consistent issue. I received no benefit from that money since I had to repeat everything all over again. Thus, I have been in a constant dispute with the DOE. Their response has been, ‘You signed the note. You attended the classes. You owe us the money.' However, my point to them has been that for American University to qualify for the federal loan program they must comply with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which mandates equal treatment in all operations of the university, which was not the case. I filed charges with security for being threatened by a Japanese student and nothing was done. I did nothing to my roommate and had the full weight of the university fall upon me.
As a result of my refusal to pay the loans, DOE has since garnished my wages. I was informed by them that I have a right to a hearing to contest the garnishment. I filed the appropriate forms and sent 120 pages of documents regarding the situation. My hearing was denied and the garnishment imposed. According to DOE, I had attended American until August of 2000, and, therefore, because I was still at the school, I needed to repay.
When I spoke with the representative of DOE (a black woman), she stated that I ‘alleged' discrimination but did not prove it. I asked her where the August 2000 date came from; she told me it was provided by American University. I told her that they were providing fraudulent information because I was at Miami at the time. She then became very belligerent, stating ‘I know how to do my job' and hung up on me.
So, 12 years later, I am still dealing with the repercussions of a simple comment made in a restroom at the university. Because of the various individuals involved and their own racist agenda, I have essentially had my life ruined. The future that I felt I was going to have when I first arrived at the university was taken away from me and their actions have cost me dearly -- mentally, emotionally, and financially. Every two weeks when I get paid and have the garnishment taken I am reminded of what happened. Of course, the absolute irony in all of this is that I'm still friends with my roommate.
In conclusion, I would like you to know how much I appreciate what you wrote in describing the situation Keith Sampson unfortunately found himself in. Your statement, ‘people of low character, often vile, ignorant, unintelligent individuals' is very accurate, although phrased much nicer than I would say it.