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When the racially-charged CDTA bus incident occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 30, 2016 it immediately took the nation by storm, but one alleged victim is taking the community by storm as she files a lawsuit against the University at Albany for unfair judgement.

Ariel Agudio, Asha Burwell, and Alexis Briggs, alleged they were victims of a hate crime after an incident on a CDTA bus on Jan 30. The University at Albany was quick to support the students and issued a statement condemning the alleged attack. Even Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the three women.

Initial response was a rapid demand for justice regarding the three victims as well as a second arduous look at how UAlbany conducts its students and events such as these. So, it came to most people’s surprise when law enforcement officials exposed the incident as a fabricated story, with the three initial victims as the perpetuators themselves.

Response to the new allegations came just as rapid as the one prior, bringing criminal charges to the three former victims and leading to a Student Conduct Hearing from university officials.

According to Section 4 Part 3. BII of the Student Conduct: “The Student Conduct System encourages student involvement in the conduct proceedings and relies on full and open discussion of cases with all parties concerned in the order to render a fair judgement.”

Neither Aguido, Burwell nor Briggs attended the hearing which resulted in the students’ expulsion from the university. Being a controversial hearing to begin with, some have criticized the university’s inability to provide the three women’s attorneys with sufficient evidence for a proper defense.

Agudio has filed a 131-page lawsuit with the Albany Supreme Court which incriminated the school with a lack of transparency and fair judgment.

Although Agudio’s attorney, Mark Mishler, declined any interviews with the university, UAlbany released a statement that read, “The university is fully confident that the student conduct hearing which led to the dismissal of Ms. Agudio was conducted carefully, fairly, and impartially and consistent with the procedures and protocols of our established disciplinary process.”

However, according to a statement by Mishler in the Daily Gazette, “The actions of [the university] in this case are particularly egregious as many of the most significant violations of proper and due process could have been easily avoided.”

Due to the lawsuit, Joseph Brennan, the university’s vice president and one of the witnesses at the hearing, was and still is concerned with the negative impact of the incident.

“Research and experience teach us that the first version of an event is the one that persists, even if facts emerge later to contradict that version,” he said.

At UAlbany, where every one in three students is a minority, Brenan worries that the view of the university as a “hostile place for people of color is especially a tragic loss.”

With the recent lawsuit by Ms. Agudio in addition to what may seem like permanent controversy, Brennan is still confident, “over time, with diligent effort, I believe that we can portray the university in a more favorable light.”

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