“The days when universities could get away with racial discrimination to advance diversity are over”
Our Civil Rights Complaint against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln over its “Black Public Media Residency” program continues to reverberate: “There is no ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ exception to the anti-discrimination laws and the Equal Protection guarantee in the 14th Amendment.”
The Civil Rights Complaint filed by the Equal Protection Project over a University of Nebraska-Lincoln racially exclusionary on-campus filmaker-in-residence program continues to reverberate. We covered the filing and media reaction in U. Nebraska-Lincoln ‘Black Public Media Residency’ Challenged By Equal Protection Project.
I appeared earlier this week on the Stuart Varney show to discuss the case:
[Transcipt auto-transcribed, may containe transcription errors]
Varney (00:04): The University of Nebraska Lincoln was just hit with a civil rights complaint. It’s over a program for black filmmakers. William Jacobson is the Cornell University law professor and joins me now. Professor, is it legit that a university in America today has a program specifically for black filmmakers? Is that okay with you?
WAJ (00:28): No, it’s not okay. And that’s why we have filed a complaint over it, because this is a program which is racially exclusionary. You can only apply for it if you are a black filmmaker. If you just reverse the roles, if they had a program that was only for white filmmakers, it would be a national story. It would be outrage everywhere. But for some reason, universities seem to think discrimination is okay, depending which direction it targets.
Varney (00:54): It seems like we’re trying to end all racial preferences, whether it’s in corporations or colleges or high schools or wherever. Is that your goal?
WAJ (01:04): Yes. That is the goal. I mean, and that is <laugh>. That is what the 14th Amendment says, equal protection of the laws. That’s what the Supreme Court has held, and that is our goal at the Equal Protection Project, that we want to eliminate the use of race in terms of who gets what benefits from society. That should be our highest ideal. Unfortunately, it’s only controversial because we’ve gone decades now, particularly in academia, where the opposite was the intention.
Varney (01:31): I mean, I remember as as a younger man, fifties and sixties and seventies, it seemed like the objective was a colorblind society. We seem to have rejected that. Are we now getting back to that whole, that ideal?
WAJ (01:45): I like the term color neutral. That we can recognize what people are and we can recognize history. We don’t have to ignore it, but everybody is entitled to be treated neutrally based upon their skin color. We don’t give somebody favor or disfavor because of skin color. That’s where we have to go, and that’s where we are trying to take us.
Varney (02:05): Do you still have a job, professor? Because what you are saying is not very popular on the campus these days, is it?
WAJ (02:11): Well, I still am employed as of five minutes ago. My login still worked. But yes, it’s a dissident view on many campuses, but it’s something that I think most students, and frankly even most faculty support, but they have to do it quietly. They’re afraid to speak out. That’s not what we hear. People don’t like this racial discrimination.
Varney (02:32): I thought the student body and certainly the faculty was gung-ho for all kinds of preferences.
WAJ (02:39): Well, if you talk to the activists, yes, but the activists are only a small percentage. Most students don’t like this. They don’t appreciate it, but they’re afraid to speak out.
Varney (02:49): Professor William Jacobson, thank you very much for joining us this morning and enlightening us all. We appreciate it. Professor, come again soon.
Fox News Digital also picked up the story (emphasis added):
President of the EPP William Jacobson told Fox News Digital that the law “has been clear for decades” and that “universities may not even take race into account to advance diversity objectives.”
“While the law has been clear for decades that racial discrimination in education is unlawful, after the Supreme Court’s Harvard decision there can be no doubt that universities may not even take race into account to advance diversity objectives,” Jacobson said. “Yet, that is exactly what the U. Nebraska-Lincoln program does, it reserves a spot on program teams for Black students in order to foster diversity, creating a disadvantage and lessening of opportunities for others.” ….
“There is no ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ exception to the anti-discrimination laws and the Equal Protection guarantee in the 14th Amendment,” Jacobson added.
The EPP’s action against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln follows a civil rights complaint against the State University of New York at Buffalo’s School of Law for its Discover Law Undergraduate Scholars Program and the University of Minnesota’s Multicultural Summer Research Opportunities Program.
“EqualProtect.org stands against all racial discrimination, regardless of who is targeted and who allegedly benefits. U. Nebraska-Lincoln purports to live up to this value in its own anti-discrimination policies, but it needs to walk the walk, not just talk the anti-discrimination talk.”
We also were featured in a story at Inside Higher Ed regarding whether colleges and universities are overreacting to the Supreme Court’s Harvard/UNC ruling.
An Overabundance of Caution – Colleges are going over race-conscious practices with a fine-toothed comb, anticipating future legal challenges. Critics fear they’re sacrificing values at the altar of prudence.
William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell University and the founder and director of the conservative legal nonprofit Equal Protection Project, said that in his view the affirmative action ruling goes far beyond admissions, a position shared by many conservative lawmakers and governing board members. Institutions, he believes, are right to cast a wide net to avoid future lawsuits, which he predicts will flow freely now that the dam has been breached.
“A core philosophy advanced by campus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ideology has been rejected as unlawful. Those in higher education who try to pigeonhole the ruling into university admissions are missing the sweep and scope of the equal protection ruling,” Jacobson said via email. “The days when universities could get away with racial discrimination to advance diversity are over. Higher ed needs to adjust across the board.”
Pressure on institutions to make those adjustments is already ramping up. On Monday, Jacobson’s EPP filed a civil rights complaint against a residency program for Black filmmakers at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. [Emphasis added]
We will continue to press forward on this and other matters.
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