A white student was discriminated against and harassed by a Native American lecturer at San Diego State University, according to a six-month investigation by the California Department of Justice.
The results of the investigation were laid out in a confidential 51-page report obtained by the Daily Aztec, San Diego State University’s independent student newspaper. It details multiple conversations and meetings between the lecturer and then-student Crystal Sudano.
Sudano, who is white, filed four complaints against her professor, Oscar “Ozzie” Monge, who is Chicano and Native American.
“The first of which — that Monge discriminated against Sudano on the basis of a disability — was found to not be supported by the evidence. However, the final three — discrimination based on race, racial harassment and retaliation — were,” according to the student paper.
These claims were backed up by 14 different witnesses, including Monge and Sudano.
Monge is well known on campus for being a prominent voice in favor of retiring the Aztec mascot and moniker in an effort to cease cultural appropriation by the school. The investigation found that Monge sent at least 15 offensive Facebook messages to Sudano, including one that threatened her grade after she challenged his position on the Aztec mascot.
Monge also told Sudano that her Aztec mascot T-shirt was “racist” and accused her of cultural appropriation when she wore her hair in braids. He also criticized SDSU’s Associated Students for its “whiteness,” telling Sudano on Facebook, “The AS is something else that confuses me … the way it’s structured, the way it runs And (sic) how damned white it is.”
Sudano defended the Associated Students, telling Monge, “The idea is that EVERYONE no matter ho (sic) low on the totem pole you are, shared governance is what gives the lowest man the right to share his opinion and for that opinion to be heard.”
Monge responded that she should not use the phrase “totem pole” and went on to target other SDSU students, calling one an “Uncle Tom” and others “Frat Bros and Sorority Sisters … who do not easily empathize with non-whiteness.”
In another exchange, Monge called students “Cherokee Princesses,” which refers to persons who appear white but claim to have Cherokee heritage. The Facebook conversations escalated from there and Monge eventually blocked Sudano’s account, but not before bringing up her grades.
According to the Daily Aztec, the report states, “Monge retaliated against Sudano … after she complained to [him] about his discriminatory and harassing conduct, and appeared to undermine Monge’s thesis in the mascot resolution debate. Monge told Sudano that her grade would be lowered, ultimately causing her to seek a constructive withdrawal from [his] class.”
Other damning excerpts from the report include “The messages Monge sent to Sudano demonstrate that Monge has an animus against white people” and “Monge uses ‘white’ whenever he wishes to explain someone who has done something wrong, or bad.”
Monge does not seem to be remorseful about his interactions with Sudano. He wrote to investigators, “It is quite easy to argue that ‘whiteness’ is synonymous with evil.”
SDSU released a statement regarding the investigation:
San Diego State University is committed to creating a learning environment where everyone is treated with respect and dignity. The university prohibits discriminatory behavior and harassment of any kind on campus, and takes allegations of misconduct by any member of the campus community very seriously. The university responds to all reports of alleged violations by members of the campus community, and takes appropriate action to prevent, investigate, correct or discipline such conduct. San Diego State University does not discuss pending matters due to privacy rights of all parties involved and to protect the integrity of the review process.
When contacted by Red Alert Politics, SDSU's director of Media Relations Jill Esterbrooks declined to comment further, calling the situation "a pending matter."
The attorney general investigation and report is the first step in an ongoing evaluation process. Depending on what Monge decides to do, there may be an appeals process, a chancellor's review, faculty senate review, and more.