This website is called lawsuitagainstuconn.com, but it is
not about money. It is an account of racial harassment
I experienced and this is my attempt to get the truth out about
it. I have more to lose than to gain by exposing this
story, but I feel I must write this. The harassment was
terrible, but I made it through.
Having done so I could go on and try
to adjust to life after my experience as if it never happened.
By coming forward this story will be known within my career
path and outside as well, putting my chances at a career in
peril. But, my hope is the truth of who I really am will be
known and perhaps I can help keep something similar from
happening to anyone else. That is my aim.
My name is Sudhama Ranganathan. This website is devoted to what
happened to me while I was working towards a degree at the
University of Connecticut´s Landscape Architecture Department.
While there, I went through some of the worst examples of racism
in my life. I call this website "lawsuitagainstuconn.com,"
because my original intent was to get justice through the law
system. At that time I planned to chronicle my fight on the
web site, but I discovered I couldn´t afford a lawyer.
My options became limited to getting justice by going public
with my story. Despite the new publicity this would mean
for me I decided to push forward.
There isn´t much online regarding discrimination at
UCONN. A local civil rights attorney told me this is
because UConn tends to settle out of court thereby erasing all
traces of civil rights violations occurring on campus. Or they
find other ways of sweeping things under the rug.
UConn has substantial resources at it’s disposal
including the threat of the State’s Attorney General
defending them. If you´re poor and can´t afford a lawyer
the idea of pursuing them in court can feel like a lose -
lose situation. The purpose of this website is
not to get revenge against those who committed the
harassment against me, but to expose what happened so
others might be aware of the possibility of it
happening to them.
Although I have graduated
I still feel the pain from what I experienced
at UConn. I hope by sharing my story someone
reading this might be helped.
My mother is White, Christian and from England. My father,
who passed away when I was 15 years old, was Indian,
Hindu and from India. I classify myself as bi-racial. In 1990
when I was a senior in high school I became involved in planning
peaceful political protests with some college students
at Wesleyan University.
We made the unfortunate choice to commit an act of protest in
the form of arson on a Wesleyan University building as
part of those protests. Our intentions weren't to burn down the
building, just cause damage or to vadalize as it were. That
doesn't excuse it, but it was the plan and we took steps to make
sure the area would be clear of people when we did it.
These actions were not religiously
motivated just political. The arson was an act of property
destruction meant to prove a political point to a single person,
not the institution as a whole, to get them to act. It was not
an anti-American statement, just the misguided effort of
American students to get equal treatment for American minorities.
My own involvement was tangiential as I didn't plan the planning
or much else. The leaders were two others who recruited me and had
to convince me to join by working on me over and over and by going
through my friends.
This was an act of student protest not terror. It was no
act of war. In fact it was specifically planned not to
physically harm anyone. As many disagreements as I had at the
time with the powers that be, I still believed America was my
country and the best country in the world. Watering the tree
of liberty with the blood was not something I believed in. In
all reality I still don't.
I looked into Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. None of
them seemed to have the complete answer I was looking for.
I didn´t even have a religious affiliation at that time.
The summer following the arson, I was caught and later
convicted as an adult. This, although, I was a minor at the
time I commited the arson and had cooperated with the
government. Nonetheless my crime was kept a matter of public
I eventually put down the partying, applied for school
and was accepted to the University of Connecticut.
By that time I had I become a Zen Buddhist. It helped ground me
and foster a positive outlook on life. Thus, by the
time I entered UConn at the age of 31 I was ready to go
forward with a career and a life.
As relates to my harassment at UCONN one
needs to understand, I was never a Muslim terrorist period. I was
scared just like every other American on September 11, 2001.
I was referred to as a Muslim terrorist at UConn to strike fear
in the hearts of my fellow students and thus help spread the
prejudices of certain professors.
This was to isolate me by preying on racial fears and trying to
connect what happened at Wesleyan University in 1990 to to
the terrorist acts commited on 9/11. I want to see justice
for what happened on 9/11 like all other Americans.
I also see that in trying to turn my fellow classmates
against me, by fomenting religious prejudices against Muslims,
the professors at UConn responsible for the hostile
environment displayed exactly what kind of people they are.
No one from the government ever talked to me, called me or
wrote me since I served the sentence for my conviction for
any reason relating to terrorism extremism or anything of the
like. Not once. No one from the school questioned me about
my past involvement at Wesleyan University before my entering
UConn. There was no reason for the professors in The Landscape
Architecture Department at UConn to question me, and they never
sat down with me to question me either.
Of course, they could have just asked me if they were so concerned.
They could have simply said my portfolio was not what they were
looking for and turned down my application to their
department. Instead, they invited me in and then took the
law into their own hands. They decided to become judge
and jury. When confronted they lied and hid.
Some of what occurred I outline in the What Happened page. By
writing about what happened to me and coming forward I wish
to encourage anyone else who has been harassed or
discriminated against to collect evidence and expose the
law breakers for the criminals they are. I also wish to
highlight the extent to which racial and other forms of
intolerance still permeate the landscape of American
society. Subtle methods of racism are employed in order to
keep perpetrators from being caught.
It is a form of cowardice and should not be tolerated any more
than overt forms of discrimination, harassment, abuse,
intolerance and racism. It must be exposed and eradicated.
My only wish is to be
able to sit down with the school and work this out to
ensure it does not happen to anyone else. I have recieved
letters questioning whether I am looking for a monetary
settlement and here is a little clip
as proof I am not. I have even recieved a threatening
phone call demanding I stop writing my story online or else.
On May 20, I was walking my dogs, with a family member out at a
city park. I went back to my car and when I got there there was a
green Chevy Blazer sitting there. A man was inside and he asked me
if I knew Lee Godburn. I replied, "Yes" he said "We do too and if
you don't take down that web site we're goiung to see how much youm
like Photoshop." This is the only website with a couple of clone
versions as backups, but they are the same site. I don't know what
he meant by Photoshop, but as I have no plans to take down my site,
we'll soon find out.
However, I have no ill will with regards to the school on the
whole and support all the UCONN mens and womens sports
teams. Feel free to go over what happened to me, and decide how
you feel about it for yourself. You can find me on
First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi