Civil Rights Groups Claim Racial Discrimination At University Of New Mexico (VIDEO)

11/23/2011 08:51 am ET

Black faculty, students and employees at the University of New Mexico are speaking out about alleged unfair treatment some say has been going on for years.

The Albuquerque NAACP chapter and a group of African American pastors have filed a complaint with the Justice Department and the Federal Department of Education, claiming that black employees at the university and its hospital are subject to racial discrimination, reports.

"We're finally bringing it to light," NAACP chapter president, Darnell Smith told the news network. "It's been going on for years."

The complaint asserts that University of New Mexico exhibits "rampant discrimination" and has "created a culture of discrimination and a racially hostile environment," by failing to promote black employees to administrative positions and salary disparities between black staff and their peers.

According to The New York Times, the groups also allege that 80 percent of black doctors who left the university's medical school did so because of these conditions and "adverse employment action."

Bishop David Cooper, senior pastor at New Hope Full Gospel Baptist Church and head of the black clergy organization, said he approached the university several times with various concerns on behalf of educators and employees with no action from the administration.

"We basically got to a place where we felt the administration was not willing to even consider making changes," he told The New York Times. "Even though they themselves conceded there were disparities."

As of last year, only 2.4 percent of students at the University of New Mexico are black, and fewer than 20 of black faculty members are tenured.

This, however, is not out of the ordinary for many colleges. According to the most recent 2007 U.S. Department of Education only 5.4 percent of full-time faculty members in the nation's university and colleges were African American, less than one half the black student enrollment figure.

Nevertheless, the university released a statement adamantly denying the claims issued in the complaint.

We do not discriminate against African Americans. We do not discriminate against any individual or group based on race, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender or ability. The university has very clear policies in place which prohibit discrimination and we train our employees to comply with the law and our policies.