Kuran Malhotra GUASFCU Experience

If these past few years since President Trump was first elected in 2016 have taught us anything, it is that we are certainly in a new era of advocacy and activism, fueled by digital social media, and now advanced by traditional news media. If some believed that there were the so-called “have nots,” who had been disenfranchised and traditionally ignored, those people now believe that harming others to advance the cause of equity and fairness – as they see it – is noble and necessary. While I believe there is a certain merit to the reasons and need for the #metoo movement, I fell victim to the methods that activists and the media so often buy into in order to advance a social cause. Constitutional rights such as due process, the presumption of innocence, and our freedom of speech (even if some disagree with what is being said) have been deemed meaningless in the cause of correcting long standing wrongs with certain inequalities. Meaning, there are those who fervently believe that in order to secure justice for groups that had been marginalized or wronged, the actual or factual innocence of one being accused must be rejected. Unfortunately, that is what happened to me.

My story, seen with the proper narrative, is a very different tale than the one some want to assign to me. Here is what they didn’t want me to be able say loud enough for anyone to hear.

Just this past May, amidst a pandemic, I graduated from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business with a BS in Business Administration, majoring in Finance and Operations & Information Management and a minor in economics. I graduated in good standing, with a clean disciplinary record, and as part of both the Dean’s list and the Omicron Delta Epsilon Honor Society. While at Georgetown, I served as CEO of the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union (GUASFCU) and chief financial officer of the Hilltop Microfinance Initiative (HMFI), which are two of Georgetown’s most recognized organizations. 

I was the first student to hold c-level leadership in both organizations at once, and was the second consecutive CEO of Indian origin at GUASFCU, an organization with a storied history of exclusion and bias on Georgetown’s campus. In August 2019, I was nominated by GUASFCU interns and recognized as one of the top 50 leaders in the industry by the Credit Union National Association for an award which recognizes those who are “servant leaders” and “team builders.” 

During my time with GUASFCU and HMFI, I served in numerous leadership positions and considered my fellow interns to be some of my closest friends. On the other hand, though, I was the subject of extreme bias, with the GUASFCU CFO saying on multiple occasions that my being elected CEO meant the organization was “turning into a call center” in reference to my Indian heritage. 

This is when it went wrong. In October 2019, just two months after receiving the Credit United National Award, I was placed on leave from both leadership positions with GUASFCU and HMFI, amid allegations of fostering a “toxic” workplace and engaging in “misconduct,” surfacing from an article in Georgetown’s school paper, the Hoya. To this day, the article and the allegations remain untrue and have been disproven. Georgetown has documented to me, in writing, that the Hoya is known for its lack of journalistic integrity, and that the story is false. An independent investigation found no proof of the Hoya’s salacious claims, and in fact found that members of GUASFCU came forward to the organization’s Board of Directors stating that they had been approached by the Hoya writers asking for someone to lie for their story, and that they had heard members of GUASFCU and its leadership discussing how they had lied for the sake of the story. I was also reinstated by HMFI as their CFO following an investigation from an external counsel, further demonstrating the baselessness of the claims. Yet, the article still remains online because the school refuses to step in to discipline the students who wrote it. 

In short, this situation amounts to nothing more than students spreading false rumors to gain recognition in the school paper, and out of bias, jealousy and spite. Unfortunately, it has led to the smearing of my name and character, and has left me a pariah in the eyes of my classmates at Georgetown. I have compiled this timeline in order to shed light on the true facts of the matter, since the Hoya, which published the original story, and other Georgetown news outlets have refused numerous times to share my side of the story. 

This began the summer prior to the article being written, when one of the interns of GUASFCU working there for the summer stole several hundred dollars from my personal account from GUASFCU. Upon learning of this and returning to campus, I informed the rest of the Board of Directors, and recused myself from the discussion of what action was to be taken. The Board voted to fire the individual from GUASFCU and that individual blamed me for that decision, since it was my account and my reporting on him that led to his dismissal. 

Looking forward about two weeks later, I was called by GUASFCU’s Chief Communications Officer and informed that the Board (not including me) had just come out of a meeting with two of the Hoya’s reporters, where they were told that the Hoya was investigating and planning on publishing a piece regarding my supposed-misconduct at GUASFCU. I immediately rejected the claims as false and asked for details, of which there were none. I was then informed that I would be put on an indefinite suspension, and the board subsequently sent an email to all of the interns of GUASFCU detailing that I had been suspended for alleged misconduct, and “imploring” anyone with further information to please step forward. HMFI took similar steps in placing me on a leave of absence. The Hoya then retracted their statement and reported GUASFCU and HMFI’s responses to their rumor as the baseline of their story, with the headline that I was suspended for misconduct and detailing the email GUASFCU sent. The Hoya created a rumor, spread it, and then reported on it as if it were a breaking news story, something that Georgetown University officials have acknowledged they do often in order to generate clicks and readership. 

Adding to the impropriety, one of the contributors to the article was a close friend and roommate of the individual who was dismissed from GUASFCU for stealing money. That contributor was documented by attorneys sending texts to women in GUASFCU, asking if they would be willing to lie for the sake of the Hoya’s story, because “all [they] have is hearsay.” 

Looking within the story, the Hoya reports on a “high ranking GUASFCU official” that told the Hoya about the alleged misconduct within GUASFCU. Attorneys found written evidence of GUASFCU’s then-CFO stating she did not like me as CEO of GUASFCU because I was turning it into “a call center,” referencing my Indian heritage. This same member of GUASFCU leadership was caught discussing her intent to lie to the Hoya and falsify claims to have me removed from my role as CEO, again documented in writing. The Hoya also cited sources as though there was a litany of individuals when, in reality, they spoke to only a couple, with one being the “high ranking official” and another likely being the individual who was dismissed for stealing money. They failed to report on the clearly malicious motive of their sources, and were willfully negligent and unethical in soliciting sources to lie for the story. The story lives not only on the Hoya’s website, but also on each of the writers’ personal sites as well, and they continue to gain acclaim and professional momentum off this salacious click-bait piece — one of their most popular of 2019 — while trampling both my career and reputation. 

Most disappointingly, Georgetown failed to both defend me against these claims which, behind closed doors and in private letters, they readily admitted were false, and they failed to penalize the students who engaged in a baseless attempt to damage my reputation on the basis of racial bias and revenge. I was forced to resign from my position as a class ambassador for Georgetown, with members of Georgetown’s Office of Advancement apologizing for the strife they had put upon me, but saying they did not have the ability to control their own students. I drew up a statement to address the entire class committee upon my forced resignation. However, the statement was not allowed to be published in its entirety, and both Georgetown’s administration and the Office of Advancement continue to shirk their responsibility in defending me from these baseless and salacious claims. 

Because I was not allowed to address the truth of the matter, I was never even given a chance to defend myself. Georgetown created a problem that still haunts me through their lack of action, and I have continued to ask them to release my statement to counteract the lies the Hoya has spread. They have also dismissed my formal claims to the Offices of Student Conduct and Diversity, Equity, and Action, on a spineless claim that they were filed “too late after the incident,” despite the fact that I saw continuous harassment, discrimination, and bullying well beyond their arbitrary deadline, with subsequent articles even being published after my claims were filed.

It has become increasingly clear that Georgetown has no intention of working to solve this issue nor the endemic root causes that bore it. It is also clear that Georgetown, a predominately white school with a rocky history of racism and slavery, and close ties to scandals that have ricocheted throughout the Catholic church, only seeks to protect its own reputation from damage, at the expense of their students and alumni. 

I have been denied the equal access to education and an alumni network that is afforded to all Georgetown students, and all the while the novice reporters from the Hoya continue to build their own careers and successes off of the back of a derogatory and defamatory article. Despite graduating from a top university in good standing with multiple honors and awards, my reputation remains tainted by this salacious article written by immature students, which stem from nothing but racism, hatred, and bigotry.

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