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Equal Protection Project Racks Up Numerous Wins In First Nine Months Since Launch

Equal Protection Project Racks Up Numerous Wins In First Nine Months Since Launch

Of the 20 racially discriminatory programs and practices we’ve challenged over the past nine months, we’ve already notched nine wins ending discriminatory conduct and three other impacts altering but not yet ending discriminatory programming.

Legal Insurrection Foundation’s most recent venture – the Equal Protection Project ( – launched late February 2023, to much fanfare. Nine months later and our efforts have helped shift the legal landscape as to racial and ethnic discrimination in education through legal challenges to change behavior and expansive media to change narratives. As detailed below, we have filed 20 legal complaints, resulting in at least nine ‘wins’ and three additional ‘impacts.’

Inside Higher Ed, one of the leading education industry publications, has taken notice of our impact to-date:

conservative firms are the ones truly ramping up their efforts in the aftermath of the affirmative action ruling. Hawkins said that a number of factors—including a more conservative federal circuit bench largely appointed by former president Trump—coalesced with the Supreme Court ruling to create a “perfect storm” for a rapid-fire stream of new litigation.

“They have a receptive judiciary now, and I think they’re taking full advantage of that,” she said. “Litigation typically moves slowly, but there are shadow dockets on more activist circuit courts that are looking for opportunities to exercise their power, and I do think we’re seeing evidence of that happening more and more.”

Jacobson understands this shift; his EPP is preparing a full docket of legal challenges to race-conscious policies on everything from scholarships to summer programs, and even beyond higher education. He said that until colleges demonstrate an understanding of what he sees as the broad equal protection implications of the SFFA rulings, those challenges will keep coming.

Reuters also has taken note:

What Inside Higher Ed, Reuters, and many others miss is that EPP launched months before the Students for Fair Admission ruling. Our efforts were never contingent on a favorable SCOTUS result. The majority opinion’s equivocations might even make more our job more difficult by leading schools to drive their discrimination underground. Pursuing EPP’s mission takes on new import and urgency.

What follows is a summary of EPP’s wins and impact from our 20 legal challenges and other efforts. We’ve provided some “before and after” contextual evidence of what various universities have done in response to our actions against them.

Table of Contents

A. About EPP

B. Actions Taken To-Date

C. Wins and Impact

1. Albany Medical College
2. Albany Public Library / SUNY Albany
3. Bismarck State College
4. Buffalo School of Law
5. Kansas State University
6. Minnesota, University of
7. Missouri State University
8. Nebraska-Lincoln, University of
9. New York University (Parents workshop)
10. New York University, Grossman School of Medicine
11. North Dakota, University of
Providence Public School District (Teacher Meetup)

D. Conclusion

A. About EPP

A little about EPP: what drives us is the desire to eliminate all forms of racism, especially what we have coined “equity discrimination” – perpetuated predominantly by university administrative bureaucracies under the auspices of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The DEI apparatus across America’s universities, graduate schools, and even the private sector share the same working assumption – that discrimination is acceptable, if not noble, if meant to achieve desired outcomes (“equity”). We squarely reject that notion.

EPP’s mission statement addresses this reality:


B. Actions Taken To-Date

Since February 2023, EPP has taken various legal measures with a primary focus on the complaint process at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR has jurisdiction to enforce “civil rights laws [that] extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries, and museums that receive U.S. Department of Education funds.” Thus far, we have filed 20 regulatory complaints with OCR.

We have also initiated action beyond educational institutions, including the Albany Public Library and LinkedIn. Expansion beyond education is one of our goals for 2024.

Finally, we built off of Legal Insurrection Foundation’s 2022 Amicus Brief in the Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard Supreme Court case by submitting two additional Amicus Briefs: once again in the Supreme Court for the Coalition for TJ case as well as in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fearless Fund appeal.

C. Wins and Impact 

Of the 20 racially discriminatory programs and practices we’ve challenged with the Office for Civil Rights over the past nine months, we’ve notched nine wins and three examples of impact on the discriminatory programming we attacked. We’ll take you through these matters, including links to screenshots reflecting the changed online language regarding the discriminatory programs, as well as a “track changes” view in some cases to see exactly what has changed in response to our legal and public pressure campaigns.

1. Albany Medical College 

IMPACT: language breaking down eligibility by race/ethnicity removed from program websites, though applicants are still limited to “minority” students .

Albany Medical College participated in the same New York State funding program, entitled the Science and Technology Entry Program  (STEP) and designed for 7-11th graders who are “historically underrepresented in the sciences or from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.” AMC, following STEP guidelines, defined “Historically underrepresented” to mean Black, Latino, Alaskan native or American Indian, or coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Other mentions of the program’s eligibility guidelines limited to applicants to “minority students,”  and the only available options for ethnicity in the application included African-American/African, Hispanic/Chicano/Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Other. AMC voluntarily participated in this program – it didn’t have to take grant money tied to discrimination.

EPP filed an OCR complaint in August 2023 to challenge the AMC program.  AMC thereafter took down an undated website flier laying out the program’s eligibility criteria, broken down by ethnicity. (Before | After) Additionally, the link to the latest publicly available program application at the time of our OCR complaint filing (for year 2022) – an application that only provided ethnicity checkboxes for African-American/African, Hispanic/Chicano/Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Other – has been taken down and is no longer accessible. (Before | After)

On the AMC program’s homepage, the college replaced ethnicity eligibility references to “African-American/African, Hispanic/Chicano/Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Other”  racial classifications with “minority.” As of November 2023, the college’s websites regarding the program uses “minority” consistently throughout its programming  materials and makes no specific reference to the races/ethnicities eligible for the program. (Before | After | Track the changed language)

We will continue to monitor AMC’s program, and are marking this as an “IMPACT” because the program website changes followed soon after our OCR complaint.

2. Albany Public Library / SUNY Albany

WIN: 2023 programming was not conducted post-OCR complaint filing; library is reconsidering racial restrictions in future; program site taken down.

The Albany Public Library administered a paid summer internship at two of the library’s branches initially available only to black graduates of the library school program at the State University of New York at Albany, subsequently expanded to black graduates of any library program. The program was created in partnership with University at Albany (SUNY Albany), which actively promoted the program. Eligibility was contingent on race, expressly limiting participation to “two Black recent Library and Information Science graduates.” 

EPP sent a legal demand letter to the library, and subsequently filed an OCR Complaint against SUNY Albany. While SUNY Albany has not addressed the matter other than stating it did not “administer” the program, the library’s website for the program has been taken down. (Before | After) Additionally, no results regarding the program can be located on the library’s website. (Null search results)

We have been informed that APL did not administer this year’s program and is reconsidering whether to use the program with racial restrictions going forward. So we consider this a WIN.

3. Bismarck State College

WIN: racial classifications for tuition waiver removed; program name changed to reflect removal of racial eligibility.

In 2021, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education promulgated a policy that “encouraged” North Dakota public universities to “provide for … [a] waiver of tuition and fees …. to promote enrollment of a culturally diverse student body.” Based on this, Bismarck State College implemented its Cultural Diversity Waiver to reduce eligible student tuition. To be eligible for the tuition reduction, however, students had to be “African American/Black, Alaska Natives, Asian American, Hispanic, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Latino/a/x, Multiracial, [or] Pacific Islander.” 

EPP filed an OCR complaint in October 2023 to challenge the tuition waiver program. Less than a month later, BSC changed the name of the program from the Cultural Diversity Waiver to the Pathway Waiver. The racial exclusion language was significantly, but not entirely, curtailed;  currently, the eligible applicant pool includes students “from, but not limited to Indian tribes and economically disadvantaged students, for the benefit of all students and the academic community….”   (Before | After | Track the changed language)

Because the racially exclusionary language has been removed, we are marking this as a WIN, though we will continue to monitor the situation.

4. Buffalo School of Law

WIN: language expressing preference for students of color removed.

The University at Buffalo School of Law ran a racially exclusionary program for 20 freshman and sophomore students who were interested in pursuing a career in law. This Discover Law Undergraduate Scholars Program was a month-long summer program for academically promising college students, and preference was explicitly “given to students of color and first-generation college students.”

EPP filed an OCR complaint in June 2023 to challenge the program. The law school thereafter removed language from its “About the program page” regarding having a preference for students of color – the only place this type of racial preference existed with respect to the program (Before | After | Track the changed language) Other pages for the program still reference a “shortage of historically underrepresented students entering the field of law” as the impetus for creating the program, however, so we will continue to monitor ongoing programming to ensure racial preferences do not play a role in the application process.

Because the racially exclusionary language has been removed, we are marking this as a WIN, though we will continue to monitor the situation.

5. Kansas State University

WIN: exclusionary racial eligibility removed, now limiting applicants to those “who have experienced oppression based on their race or ethnicity”.

Kansas State University offered the Joey Lee Garmon Undergraduate Multicultural Scholarship, designed specifically for students “of historically underrepresented backgrounds.” The scholarship was named after an African-American man who was “unable to find sensitive nurturing of his cultural identity” in a “predominantly European American community.” Applicants were required to be “of an ethnic group that has been historically and traditionally oppressed in the achievement of academic and leadership endeavors,” and preference was given to “applicants of African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Latinx American heritage.” 

EPP filed an OCR complaint in August 2023 to challenge the scholarship. The scholarship now has revised applicant criteria, no longer excluding students by race or ethnicity but rather to those “who have experienced oppression based on their race or ethnicity.” (Before | After |  Track the changed language) Note: this revised language seems to track language from the Supreme Court’s recent Harvard v. Students for Fair Admission decision distinguishing racial categorization versus one’s experience with racism: “…nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

Finally, although not indicative of any substantive change in policy regarding the university’s racially discriminatory programming, the university office administering the scholarship also changed following our OCR complaint; previously it was called “Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs,” and the name has changed to the “Department of Student Belonging and Inclusion.” (Before | After)

Because the racially exclusionary language has been removed, we are marking this as a WIN, though we will continue to monitor the situation.

6. Minnesota, University of

WIN: university made public statements that it was re-evaluating discriminatory programming; racial eligibility criteria removed; program name changed to reflect removal of racial eligibility; U.S. congressmen wrote letter to Dep’t of Education demanding investigation.

University of Minnesota had offered undergraduate students of color a paid summer research program connecting them with faculty mentors, which included “a series of seminars preparing students for graduate school and developing research skills.” The purpose of the so-called Multicultural Summer Research Opportunities Program was “to prepare students of color and Native Americans for graduate school.” 

EPP filed an OCR complaint in May 2023 to challenge the program. After the story ran with over a dozen news outlets, local to national, the NY Post reported that the university was “re-evaluating its controversial summer internship program that excludes white students….

The university’s program website now reveals that the requirement that applicants “[i]dentify as a Student of Color or Native American” has been removed, and the entire landing page for the MSROP program has been revised. The program also bears a new name, changed from Multicultural Summer Research Opportunities Program to Pathways to Graduate School: Summer Research Program. (Before | After | Track the changed language)

And, just as the Minnesota story had reached a fever pitch, four Minnesota Congressmen, as well as Representative Burgess Owens from Utah, issued a strongly worded demand letter to the U.S. Department of Education and its Office for Civil Rights calling on the agency to investigate the matter and “take proper action to ensure that this does not continue.

It is our understanding that U. Minnesota has informed OCR of the change.

Because U. Minnesota publicly announced it was ending the racial discrimination, we are marking this as a WIN, though we will continue to monitor the situation.

7. Missouri State University

WIN: university made public statement to media that it was opening up program to all races and genders; racial eligibility criteria removed from program website; program sites with racial eligibility references taken down.

Missouri State University’s entrepreneurial incubator, “efactory”, together with MSU’s Small Business Development Center, developed a business “boot camp” for “diverse and women-owned businesses.” Participation in the program was limited to “local BIPOC and women-owned businesses,” who would receive early-stage business training during the boot camp.

In April 2023, EPP wrote to the Missouri Attorney General, requesting he investigate MSU’s discriminatory program. After extensive media coverage, MSU’s president announced that MSU was ending the racially exclusionary terms.

But because the MSU President also announced that he didn’t think the university did anything wrong, EPP filed an OCR complaint< in June 2023 to challenge the business boot camp program.

Relevant efactory pages, such as a late 2022 blog post regarding applications for the boot camp, have been taken down since our OCR complaint filing. (BeforeAfter) Additionally, the former application homepage for the boot camp now forwards directly back to the efactory homepage. Shortly after our filing, we located a new MSU efactory website regarding the boot camp program, this time without reference to “BIPOC” or gender exclusions. That same page has been recently updated as of November 2023, now offering future boot camp cohorts in six Missouri locations. No evidence of any racial or gender criteria has been located by EPP.

We understand the MSU has informed OCR of the change.

Because MSU publicly announced it was ending the racial discrimination and its website appears to reflect the change, we are marking this as a WIN, though we will continue to monitor the situation.

8. Nebraska-Lincoln, University of

IMPACT: 2023 application website page taken down.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and its Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts partnered with a New York City organization, Black Public Media, to administer a certain Black Public Media Residency intended for “Black filmmakers, creative technologists and artists who need access to emerging technology, studio time or work space.“ The stated intent of the program was to address low Black representation in the industry and “to develop the talent of producers of color.”  As such, eligible projects were required to have at least one “person of African descent” who was “in a key creative position.”

EPP filed an OCR complaint in August 2023 to challenge the residency program. Only days after our filing, the 2023 Black Public Media application page – which had been publicly available as of the time of filing the complaint, even after the 2023 program had already been completed – was taken down. (Before | After) It is currently unclear if this represents a permanent or temporary change to the programming, given web pages on the school’s website touting the program and its racial exclusions still remain publicly available.

Because the program page has been taken down after our complaint, we are marking this as IMPACT because we don’t know if this reflects a substantive change for future programs. We will monitor the situation.

9. New York University (Parents workshop)

WIN: workshop homepage taken down; university search reveals no new workshops.

New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, which is part of NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, held monthly workshops for white parents who sought to foster “equitable, powerful, multiracial parent communities in their schools.” Titled “From Integration to Anti-Racism: How We Show Up As White Parents In Multiracial NYC Public Schools,” the program was touted as “anti- racist training to white parents to help them identify and combat the destructive beliefs and patterns of internalized white supremacy” as being designed “specifically for white public school parents in New York City committed to becoming anti-racist.”

EPP filed an OCR complaint in July 2023 to challenge the program, especially in light of the fact that the earlier years of the program did not contain explicit racial limitations to White parents. Now, NYU’s page for the workshop series has been removed from their website, and the link to the program’s homepage forwards to a different page reading, “Restricted Access.” (Before | After) Performing a search for “FIAR,” the program’s acronym, reveals no results on  NYU’s website now. (Null search results)

Because the program website had been taken down soon after our complaint, we are marking this as a WIN, though we will continue to monitor the situation.

10. New York University, Grossman School of Medicine

IMPACT: exclusionary racial eligibility removed, but state program  that provides funding still requires racial exclusions.

New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine participated in a New York State funding program entitled the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), designed for 7-12th grade students with a virtual curriculum consisting of “enrichment classes, financial aid workshops, health professions training, social justice education, and mentorship.” The program contained discriminatory guidelines limiting participation to those who were Black, Latino, Alaskan native or American Indian. Applicants who did not meet those racial guidelines – namely White and Asian students – would only have been considered eligible with a showing of economic disadvantage.

EPP filed an OCR complaint in August 2023 to challenge the program at NYU and five other New York medical schools. As of today, Grossman’s STEP program website has been modified to remove all references to eligibility based on race. Language was also added directing the reader to the New York State Education Department page to review the “all eligibility requirements for the Science and Technology Entry Program,” which still includes specific reference to the races eligible to apply.  (Before | AfterTrack the changed language) Other sites regarding the university’s program, however, still make reference to the explicit design and intent of the program for students from “historically underrepresented groups.”

What remains to be seen, however, is whether New York State will continue to fund NYU’s program, given the stated purpose of the state program is “[t]o increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students prepared to enter college, and improve their participation rate in mathematics, science, technology, health-related fields, and the licensed professions

Because website changes were made after our complaint, but it’s not clear what ultimate impact that will have, we are marking this as an IMPACT, not a win (yet).

11. North Dakota, University of

WIN: eligibility by race/ethnicity removed.

The University of North Dakota tuition waiver program was similar to the Bismarck College program, based on the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education’s recently policy incentivizing a diverse student body. UND’s Cultural Diversity Waiver reduced eligible undergraduate students’ tuitions and was only available only for those who were “African American/Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Latino/a/x, Hispanic American or Multiracial.”

EPP filed an OCR complaint in November 2023 to challenge the program. UND now has scrubbed any reference to racial exclusions and the programs intention to encourage a “diverse student population.” The program page now states that it is “currently reviewing awarding requirements for Fall 2024.” (Before | After | Track the changed language)

Given the state board of education policy does not require ND schools to discriminate on race to be eligible to participate in the waiver program – a point confirmed by North Dakota University System Director of Communications and Media Billie Jo Lorius, who was quoted as saying that each institution in the system “develops and administers its tuition and fee waiver programs to meet their needs using locally approved procedures” – it is likely that the program should continue to exist in its new, racially non-exclusive form going forward.

Because of the website changes as to racial criteria, and the program requirements being under review, we mark this as a WIN. We will continue to monitor the situation.

12. Providence Public School District (Teacher Meetup)

WIN: exclusionary race eligibility requirements removed.

Providence Public School District is administering a program as part of its employment hiring practices to provide loan forgiveness to newly hired teachers — but only for non-white teachers. In late 2022, Legal Insurrection Foundation filed an OCR complaint challenging the program as racially discriminatory. In February 2023, OCR made a formal referral of the matter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is currently investigating.

LIF also challenged a  PPSD-organized teacher meetup in early 2023 billed exclusively as for “Educators of Color;” this event was organized by the district’s DEI Working Group together with a group called emPOWER. Following LIF’s letter to PPSD regarding its civil rights violations, the event was moved to another location, and even more importantly, “white” as a race/ethnicity was added to the category of people on the event signup form.

In February, another teacher meetup was organized by the PPSD DEI Working Group, again through Empower, but this time without any express limitation on the attendance to non-white teachers. The event’s description still mentioned that it was an “Educators of Color” event, but it contained no exclusionary language. The event poster also had no exclusionary language, and did not even mention that it was for Educators of Color.

Our challenge was devised and executed through Legal Insurrection Foundation in anticipation of the upcoming launch of Equal Protection Project in early 2023, so we are counting it as an EPP WIN. We will, of course, continue to monitor the teacher meetups.

D. Conclusion

We are are very pleased with our first nine months, having achieved results and established a “watchdog” reputation, not just bluster. We are seeking to expand EPP, but that will depend on funding. Our goals for 2024 are to expand beyond OCR complaints to lawsuits where appropriate, and to branch out beyond education.


Jack Sorock is the Director of Case & Intake Evaluation for Equal Protection Project and Research Director for the project.


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Well done plenty of opportunities remain.

Nice results. Helps when you’re competent and on the right side.

Good work indeed!

Equity or Equality.
You can have one or the other but you cannot have both. They are mutually exclusive.

E Howard Hunt | December 4, 2023 at 8:32 am

Thus our societal death spiral is slowed somewhat if measured carefully.

Congratulations to Professor Jacobson and his team for all of their fine work. This is as righteous, noble and morally upright a legal project as currently exists in the U.S.