A medical student at the University of Virginia for the past several years has had to battle against an establishment of political correctness for simply asking a question at a presentation.
This week, Judge Norman K. Moon gave Kieran Bhattacharya approval for his lawsuit to proceed against the University of Virginia.
"Bhattacharya sufficiently alleges that Defendants retaliated against him. Indeed, they issued a Professionalism Concern Card against him, suspended him from UVA Medical School, required him to undergo counseling and obtain "medical clearance" as a prerequisite for remaining enrolled, and prevented him from appealing his suspension or applying for readmission by issuing and refusing to remove the [no trespass order]. Because a student would be reluctant to express his views if he knew that his school would reprimand, suspend, or ban him from campus for doing so, the Court concludes that Bhattacharya has adequately alleged adverse action."
In a saga highlighted by Reason, it was in October 2018 when Kieran Bhattacharya went to a microaggression conference at the University of Virginia medical school where he attended. The entire event was recorded including exact question Bhattacharya asked assistant dean Beverly Cowell Adams.
"Just to clarify your definition of microaggressions. Is it a requirement, to be a victim of microaggression, that you are a member of a marginalized group?"
Adams said no. This led to a short back and forth between the two, as Adams had defined in her presentation that microaggressions were "negative interactions with members of marginalized groups."
What happened next spiraled into eventually suspending Bhattacharya from school. Sara Rasmussen, an assistant professor and the event’s organizer, thought Bhattacharya came off as "antagonistic" and angry in his questioning of the presentation’s dogma. "I am shocked that a med student would show so little respect toward faculty members. It worries me how he will do on wards."
An official complaint of sorts was filed that obliged Bhattacharya to directly clarify that he wasn't mad at all. "I simply wanted to give them some basic challenges regarding the topic. And I understand that there is a wide range of acceptable interpretations on this. I would be happy to meet with you at your convenience to discuss this further."
It escalated. A gentle reminder to "show mutual respect" evolved into a requirement that Bhattacharya had to be "psychologically evaluated" before he’d be allowed back to his classes.
On November 14, 2018 the Academic Standards and Achievement Committee wrote to him, "The Academic Standards and Achievement Committee has received notice of a concern about your behavior at a recent AMWA panel. It was thought to be unnecessarily antagonistic and disrespectful. Certainly, people may have different opinions on various issues, but they need to express them in appropriate ways."
Within a matter of two weeks, the school pushed forced counseling onto him. In response Kieran said, "Who exactly will be present? Do you normally just give students 3 hours to prepare after indirectly threatening to kick them from medical school? Why exactly is my enrollment status up for discussion?"
Whenever he pushed back against the accusations made against him, the school used that as an excuse that Bhattacharya was displaying aggressive behavior.