The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nickerson, District Judge.
Plaintiff, an African-American woman, filed this action on
April 29, 1996 alleging that defendant, Long Island University
("the University"), discriminated against her on the basis of her
race, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866,
42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("section 1981"), the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000d ("Title VI"), and the Human Rights Law of the State of New
York. She seeks $20 million.
This court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331,
1343(a)(3), and 1367.
Plaintiff was represented by counsel when the complaint was
filed but she has acted pro se since her counsel resigned in
December 1996. On March 13, 1998, defendant moved for summary
judgment. The court considers the defendant's motion on
submission of both parties.
The complaint alleges in substance that from 1993 to the filing
of the complaint, she was enrolled in the Masters Degree in
Psychology Program at the University, and that the University,
through its employees, purposefully denied plaintiff the right to
contract free from racial considerations and engaged in a pattern
of racial discrimination designed to prevent her from completing
her masters degree on the same basis as similarly situated white
The alleged discriminatory acts are: 1) around July 1993, a
faculty member of the psychology department, Dr. Robert Fudin,
told plaintiff, "you are in the wrong department" when he saw her
wandering the hallways; 2) in his role as plaintiff's independent
study advisor, Dr. Fudin criticized plaintiff's research paper
"with intent to discriminate" and "in order to force her to leave
the [Program]"; 3) Dr. Fudin "threatened" to give plaintiff a
poor grade in order to force her to leave the Program; and 4) the
University "forced" plaintiff to transfer from the Psychology
Department to the Counseling Department "in order to avoid the
discriminatory atmosphere of Psychology Department."
In an affidavit submitted to the court, Dr. Fudin states that
plaintiff's paper was poorly researched and written and that in
his opinion plaintiff's grade is a fair evaluation of her work.
He denies ever having said to plaintiff she was in the wrong
department. Finally, the University states that plaintiff
voluntarily transferred from the psychology department to the
Plaintiff is a fifty-five year old, African-American woman. Her
husband died of a brain disorder in 1978 in the psychiatric ward
of Kings County Hospital. One of her three sons was shot and
killed in 1987. Her thirty-four year old son has been diagnosed
as a schizophrenic and, plaintiff says, is "sometimes hard to
Despite these difficult family circumstances, plaintiff has led
an industrious life. She worked for NYNEX as a directory
assistant for twenty-six years. For seventeen of those years, she
was responsible for instructing and training new directory
assistants. Plaintiff retired from NYNEX in 1997.
Around 1985, plaintiff began taking classes toward a bachelor's
degree. She started at Manhattan Community College, and then
attended Pace University where she took classes in the night
program and the "associate's program." Around 1986, she was
accepted to Pace University's bachelor of arts program but was
unable to pursue her studies because one son was killed and the
schizophrenic son had become sick. She took no classes for about
Because her son was schizophrenic, plaintiff wished to study
more psychology. In July 1993, she was accepted to the Masters
Degree in Psychology Program at the University. Her tuition was
fully covered by NYNEX. Because of scheduling conflicts at work,
plaintiff could not work at night, and had to arrange a more
flexible schedule with her department.
Gary Kose, the Chairman of the department, after discussion
with her, gave her permission to do a three-credit independent
study with a faculty advisor in lieu of taking classes. Plaintiff
was assigned Dr. ...