SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Eighteen resident advisers were fired last month by San Jose State University after a student and his parents filed a $5 million claim against the school for racial bullying.

Now one former resident adviser is speaking up, calling the firings a “shameful” public relations move to soften the blow from a task force investigating the school’s racial climate, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News.

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Adam Remelman, a senior engineering major, told the Mercury News the harsh discipline was an attempt for the school to shield itself from negative media attention over hate crime charges against four white freshman for racially bullying a black student who lived in their dorms.

“When the hate crime happened last fall, the RAs were unfairly targeted by the media, the task force and the president of the university,” Remelman told the Mercury News.

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Remelman, who lived in the same dorm where the racial incident occurred but was not responsible for monitoring the room, said the school of performed a limited investigation and gave out unreasonably harsh punishments attributed to reports of underage drinking in the dorms.

A special task force created in February noted that resident advisers ignored a Confederate flag in the students’ dorm room and the student victim complaining about a bike lock being hung around his neck by his dorm mates.

Director of University Housing Services Victor Culatta told the Mercury News the school’s actions were unrelated to the alleged hate crime or the task force review.

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