“A non-profit group opposing race-based education policies has filed more than a dozen U.S. civil rights complaints this year against universities, challenging the legality of offering minority scholarships, summer study and residency programs to promote racial diversity…. Jacobson said any program contingent on race is unlawful.”
The civil rights complaint by the Equal Protection Project (EqualProtect.org) of the Legal Insurrection Foundatoin regarding two racially-discriminatory scholarships at Western Kentucky University has spread widely in the media, including initial coverage at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fox News, and the Daily Caller.
The coverage has continued to expand with an article at Reuters, which has been syndicated in several dozen other news outlets, putting EPP at the center of the movement to remove racially-discriminatory university policies, Anti-affirmative action group, emboldened by US Supreme Court, targets scholarships:
A non-profit group opposing race-based education policies has filed more than a dozen U.S. civil rights complaints this year against universities, challenging the legality of offering minority scholarships, summer study and residency programs to promote racial diversity.
The challenges are part of a growing campaign against diversity initiatives after a U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling in June outlawed use of race in college admissions, commonly known as affirmative action. Conservative activists say the decision should extend to all educational programs, and some groups have also challenged corporate diversity policies.
The Equal Protection Project of the Legal Insurrection Foundation, headed by Cornell University clinical law professor William Jacobson, filed the complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office.
The latest complaint, filed last week, accused Western Kentucky University of violating civil rights law by offering two scholarships – one for undergraduate students and one for graduate students – available only to minority applicants. The university did not respond to a request for comment.
Other targets include a minority scholarship at Kansas State University and a residency program for Black filmmakers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
In an interview, Jacobson said the education department has asked the group for more information but has not indicated whether it will launch formal investigations. A departmental spokesperson said the office for civil rights does not discuss details of its cases.
Jacobson said any program contingent on race is unlawful.
“The typical response is, well, what’s wrong with wanting diversity?” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But you can’t do it through racial discrimination, and the Supreme Court has been very clear about that.”
The central role of EPP also was the focus of the Chronicle of Higher Education article:
William A. Jacobson, a clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School, who founded the Equal Protection Project, has challenged many other programs this year that he believes are racially discriminatory at colleges, school systems, libraries, and other public institutions….
As he sees it, the Supreme Court’s admissions ruling should also apply to financial aid. He’s surprised that many colleges haven’t yet changed their scholarship programs. “We don’t see any meaningful distinction between admissions to the university and admissions to particular programs and educational opportunities,” he said….
Inside Higher Ed puts EPP at the center of the effort for race-neutral equality, along with Ed Blum of Students for Fair Admissions (which brought the Harvard case), A New Legal Blitz on Affirmative Action:
The Supreme Court’s June decision striking down race-conscious admissions may have been the most significant higher ed case in years, providing a concrete answer to questions that have spurred dozens of court cases since the 1990s. But it hardly put an end to the legal fight over affirmative action….
Other groups are also piggybacking on SFFA’s [Harvard] victory. Yesterday the conservative law firm Equal Protection Project filed a complaint with the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights against Western Kentucky University over two scholarships—the WKU Athletics Minority Fellowship and the WKU Distinguished Minority Fellowship—available only to students of color. Last month the same organization filed a complaint against the University of Nebraska at Lincoln over a residency program for Black filmmakers that the university hosts in partnership with a local nonprofit.
William Jacobson, EPP’s founding director and a law professor at Cornell University, said colleges should expect to be held accountable for complying with the ruling.
“I don’t view the Supreme Court ruling with the narrow focus of affirmative action in admissions, or even affirmative action in general; it’s an equal protection decision,” he said. “It would certainly be in colleges’ best interest to change their policies now if they aren’t already compliant … Whatever the challenges were that failed before the decision, if those practices are ongoing, I don’t see why they can’t be challenged anew.”
Other coverage of our Western Kentucky U complaint includes the Bowling Green [where WKU is located] Dailynews:
William Jacobsen, founder of EPP and law professor at Cornell University, said they received an anonymous tip regarding the scholarships which prompted the complaint.
“We don’t want to see Western Kentucky University punished, that’s not our goal,” Jacobsen said. “Our goal is to get them to change their behavior and to announce to the world that they’re no longer going to discriminate.”
Jacobsen said WKU should stop considering race across the board, issue a formal apology and examine if other programs are engaged in “discriminatory” practices….
Jacobsen said colleges should not take race into consideration for any decision. However, they may still reach out to minority institutions and communities or provide scholarships based on merit or financial need.
The EPP has lodged 15 complaints against universities and schools across the country since February, including Rhode Island’s Providence Public School District, the University of Minnesota and Missouri State University.
We learned of these discriminatory WKU programs through a tip we received. We are continuing to act on tips and to seek out opportunities to challenge discrimination done in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. But we need your help. We are a small organization going up against powerful and wealthy government and private institutions devoted to DEI discrimination. Donations are greatly needed and appreciated.
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