Fired Chief Diversity Officer For Area M-State Campuses Gets $75,000 Settlement

UNDATED--A fired chief diversity officer for four M-State colleges in the northwest has won a $75,000 settlement after alleging his termination violated state human rights laws. Brian Xiong joined Minnesota State Community and Technical College in May 2016 where he led diversity efforts at the college's Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena campuses until he was fired in April. Xiong taught for seven years at Minnesota State University, Mankato, before joining Minnesota State Community and Technical College.

Xiong, who is Hmong-American, said he never felt welcome on a team of white administrators. He reported to the human resources manager instead of the president, as diversity officers at other Minnesota State colleges do. His salary was much lower too, at a little over 43-thousand-300 dollars and he had a non-salary annual budget of $10,000 for the four campuses.

Xiong said, ""They have a different culture up here . I felt like the college just wanted the check on the box for diversity." He said he spoke out about doing more for students of color and diversifying the college staff. He thinks that advocacy contributed to his dismissal. Xiong also reported what he saw as unfair hiring practices while serving on hiring committees. In one case, he said, administrators changed a job description so that a white woman would meet the minimum qualifications and get the job over a more qualified black woman. Xiong also said he was shocked as he observed committee members scrutinizing the Facebook profiles of applicants with nonwhite-sounding names but not doing the same for white applicants. Minnesota State Community and Technical College in October reached a $75,000 settlement agreement, with $30,000 of that going to Xiong's lawyer. The school did not admit to any wrongdoing, and Xiong agreed not to apply for work there again.

Xiong now works for Bemidji State University, another member of Minnesota State, where he leads a new diversity center.Minnesota State Community and Technical College in October reached a $75,000 settlement

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