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Interview: Priya Venkatesan Claims Title VII Discrimination

This morning news broke at The Dartmouth Review and posted about here that Professor Priya Venkatesan may be pursuing a legal claim against members of the Dartmouth community under Title VII of the federal anti-discrimination statutes. Professor Venkatesan is currently a “lecturer” in what is now the “Institute for Writing and Rhetoric,” a program that incorporates the Writing 5 program, and has served as a Research Associate for the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and in both capacities is contemplating legal action. It is not yet clear the specific avenues of litigation that might be pursued, however complaints against Dr. Christopher H. Lowrey, an Associate Professor at the medical school, and Thomas H. Cormen, Ph. D., Director of the Writing Program, and students are being investigated.

In an interview with Dartblog, Venkatesan asserts that she was subjected to “certain inappropriate and unprofessional behavior” that she thought “incriminating and damaging” enough to bring to the attention of an attorney.

One complaint, during Venkatesan’s two-year tenure as a DHMC Research Associate, regards the alleged behavior of Dr. Lowrey. Specifically an instance during which a research lab was preparing for a conference, and Venkatesan alleges that Lowrey commented to a research tech that, “your beauty will attract people to your poster.” Venkatesan claims that she informed Lowrey of the inappropriateness of the comments and that the next day Lowrey invited her to his office to discuss the matter. At this meeting Venkatesan recounts a livid Lowrey saying comments like, “you wreck havoc wherever you go” and “you think the world revolves around you” and slamming files into a garbage can. This series of events was among what Venkatesan calls “many many many incidences” of violative and inappropriate behavior.

In her capacity as a lecturer for the Writing Program, Venkatesan recounted dealings with Dr. Cormen. One manner of incidents involved Dr. Cormen sitting in on Professor Venkatesan’s courses, during which time he allegedly repeatedly interrupted the class and would walk out of the class without acknowledgement or any sort of thanks. According to Venkatesan, Cormen was “consistently rude in that way.”

Comments from Professors Lowrey and Cormen are being sought.

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