Teacher Says School Won’t Stop Threats

          EUGENE, Ore. (CN) – An Oregon community college failed to protect a Pakistani-American Muslim instructor from escalating threats from a neo-Nazi student who said students were reading his thoughts and “trying to keep him from murdering anyone,” the teacher claims in court.
     Nadia Khalid Raza sued Lane Community College in Federal Court, claiming she had to stop teaching on campus and move to online courses because Lane refused to protect her from the ex-Marine’s increasingly threatening behavior.
     “Lane’s response made a terrifying situation much worse,” Raza said in a statement. “As a faculty member, I rely on our college to provide a safe and non-discriminatory work environment and respond with expertise when it’s needed.”
     The school is the only defendant, which identifies the student only as S.S.
     Raza’s attorney Jennifer Middleton, with Johnson Johnson & Schaller, said that was for safety reasons.
     “She still sees him from time to time and we don’t know what his status is,” Middleton told Courthouse News.
     Lane Community College serves about 35,000 full- and part-time students on six campuses, including two in Eugene.
     Raza says S.S. approached her in January 2014 on the first day of her Race and Ethnicity class and said he was a Marine who had been stationed in Afghanistan. He turned in a paper saying he was “affiliated with neo-Nazis and had a background in competitive mixed martial arts,” according to the complaint.
     She says S.S. “appeared to take particular interest in her as a Pakistani-Muslim woman,” and sent her a flurry of “increasingly personal emails,” asking her to meet him off campus. She refused, and reported the emails to her department chairman Philip Martinez and to the college’s public safety department.
     Lane public safety officers cited S.S. with harassment under the student code of conduct, according to the complaint. But the college refused to let Raza participate in S.S.’s student conduct hearing, though the school’s sexual harassment complaint resolution process directs the school to allow involvement by the complainant, Raza says.
     “They were concerned about student privacy laws,” Middleton said. “We believe their reading of the student privacy laws was mistaken. But it seems that it went beyond that and we don’t know why. Hopefully, that’s one of the things we’ll find out.”
     After the hearing, dean of student affairs Barbara Delansky told Raza the school had told S.S. to drop Raza’s class and stop harassing her, according to the complaint. Delansky said S.S. was a “good kid” and that “rejection is hard.”
     Delansky did not return a phone call requesting comment.
     But Raza says the school did not prohibit S.S. from contacting her. She says he sent her an email saying the whole thing was a “misunderstanding” and that “he was confused about whether she had wanted him to be cited for harassment, since she had not been part of the student conduct hearing.”
     Things only got worse, Raza says. She says S.S. emailed Caroline Lundquist, another Lane instructor, and told her he had “discovered that I have a large corporation keeping me under surveillance – through my computer, cameras (everywhere in my home) and hired agents or paid off people. I am letting you know about this because they have a large presence here at Lane, and tend to enroll en mass[e] in my classes,” the lawsuit states.
     He told Lundquist that “students in the class were reading his thoughts and trying to keep him from murdering anyone,” according to the complaint.
     When Lundquist reported that conversation, the school’s public safety office looked into S.S.’s background and discovered that he was a felon with several active restraining orders, according to the complaint.
     On April 3, Raza says, S.S. walked into her classroom, sat in the front row and stared at her. She had other students walk her to her office after class, but S.S. followed and waited while she locked herself inside and she used another exit to avoid him, according to the complaint.
     The next day, Raza says, the school told S.S. he was banned from campus until he could have a “safety consultation” meeting four days later with Kerry Levitt, the school’s executive dean for student affairs.
     Levitt was out of the office and unavailable for comment Friday.
     But the school did not tell Raza about the ban, she says. Meanwhile, S.S. emailed her and said he thought her harassment charge was part of a conspiracy by the Sony Corporation. And he called her to say he had “documentation that she was physically attracted to him,” and that he “was planning to take action against the ‘corruption’ at LCC,” according to the complaint.
     Still, the school refused to help and didn’t do anything to protect her or to connect S.S. with mental health services, Raza says.
     On April 9, S.S. began emailing a third female instructor about the college’s “corrupt administration” and asked her to help him contact Raza, according to the complaint. The next day, Raza says, she told Martinez she wanted the rest of the term off because S.S. made the campus dangerous for her and Lane had not done anything to protect her.
     In the next four days, two more female instructors reported “disturbing and delusional” emails from S.S., and still the school took no action, Raza says.
     Raza applied for a stalking order against S.S. on April 22, but the school refused to give her his address so the sheriff’s office could serve him the papers, she says. S.S. continued to harass her “almost daily,” telling her he was still enrolled in her classes, and contacted other female instructors, Raza says.
     On May 5, Raza says, police arrested S.S. for entering an apartment building in search of her. It was the second time a fellow resident had found him there – this time, the resident “found him so threatening that he drew a concealed handgun and called the police,” Raza says.
     On May 27, she says, S.S. posted an “I Saw You” notice for Raza in the Eugene Weekly, saying he was “studying corporate and academic corruption at public library 2nd floor, by windows or at computers.” Raza says that location overlooks the spot where she sometimes worked when she was on campus.
     Raza applied for a sabbatical for the next year, but the college denied it. In mid-June, the sheriff’s office finally served S.S. with Raza’s stalking order, the lawsuit states.
     The next week, S.S. emailed the Eugene Weekly and suggested that it “unravel historical cartel records within South Park (and Team America),” according to the complaint. He allegedly told the newspaper that Sony and the FBI were conspiring to keep him from “normal interactions with women I encounter, in order to push me toward having sex with cartel representatives.”
     In the spring of 2015, school officials finally met with Raza to discuss her possible return to classroom teaching. Raza says she asked for a consistent escort and a safety officer dedicated to her classes. She says the school refused, and also refused to circulate a photo of S.S. around campus to help enforce its trespass order against him.
     Instead, she says Lane told her to download a safety app recommended by Dr. Phil.
     Raza is still teaching online with a reduced schedule, though that’s not what she wants.
     “She’d like to be teaching full time but Lane hasn’t given her a full time slot online,” Middleton said.
     And she says she had to move out of her house because S.S. repeatedly appeared in her neighborhood and once confronted her at the Lane County Farmer’s Market.
     Raza seeks an order requiring the school to provide a safe work environment so she can return to classroom teaching, enforcement of a comprehensive sexual harassment policy and an annual review by the school president’s office to ensure that the school’s policy complies with Title IX.
     Joan Aschim, spokeswoman for Lane Community College, said the school could not comment on pending litigation.
     A search of public records indicates that 48 people have been killed and 107 wounded in school shootings in the United States in the past two years.

%d bloggers like this: