Penn State English prof sues university for discriminating against him for being White

English professor Zack K. De Piero filed a federal lawsuit after being expected to comply with 'antiracist' teaching principles and subjected to alleged discrimination for teaching while white.

After the professor filed a 'bias report” to the university, he says he was told 'there is a problem with the white race,' was instructed to continue to attend 'antiracist workshops,' and to seek mental health counseling.

Zack K. De Piero, a White English professor formerly employed by Penn State University, Abington, resigned from his position and filed a federal lawsuit against the university, alleging discrimination based on his race.

After De Piero was hired, he said he almost immediately felt pressure from faculty to conform to their political viewpoints and was expected to teach “that the English language itself is ‘racist’ and, furthermore, that white supremacy exists in the teaching of writing of English,” his lawsuit reads.

“As time went on, the ‘antiracist’ movement continued gaining more power and traction at Penn State Abington to the point of pretty much becoming entrenched in the centralized mission of the school,” De Piero told Campus Reform

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“After I raised important questions about it during various meetings, my personal relationships with Abington colleagues dwindled down to only a few people,” he added.

The lawsuit says that the “antiracist” activism of the defendants reached a high after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. 

During a Zoom meeting on June 5, 2020, faculty were led through a breathing exercise when white and non-Black people of color were asked to hold their breath “to feel the pain” of their Black counterparts.

According to the lawsuit, De Piero received multiple emails from supervisors of the writing program at Penn State Abington in October 2020 to watch a video entitled “White Teachers Are a Problem.”

The lawsuit states that De Piero was able to file a “bias report” with the university’s affirmative action office in September 2021, and that Penn State’s Associate Director of Affirmative Action, Carmen Borges, subsequently requested a meeting with De Piero later that month.

“When De Piero met with Defendant Borges on September 22, 2021, to discuss his ‘Bias Report,’ she told De Piero that ‘there is a problem with the white race.’ De Piero disclosed that he felt humiliated, disgraced, harassed, and discriminated against,” says the complaint. “Borges instructed De Piero to ‘broaden your perspective’ and ‘be an academician.’ She instructed De Piero to continue attending so-called ‘antiracist’ workshops ‘until you get it.’ Borges also provided a phone number for De Piero to seek mental health support.”

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De Piero told Campus Reform that he believes “the so-called ‘antiracist’ movement” is a serious threat in education- not just for academics, but also for the mental and social wellbeing of students.

“This movement seems like it wants students to view themselves and their peers as either the oppressed or the oppressors,” said De Piero. “This ‘antiracist’ movement takes precious resources (time, energy, and money) away from the practical aspects of teaching and learning, which I think should always be the #1 priority.”

Campus Reform has contacted all additional relevant parties for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.