U. Wisconsin-Madison Scholarship Program Open Only To “BIPOC” Students Challenged By Equal Protection Project
“The discriminatory BIPOC Fellows program reflects how core university and constitutional principles of equality have been damaged by DEI.”
The Equal Protection Project (EPP) (EqualProtect.org) of the Legal Insurrection Foundation has challenged numerous racially discriminatory programs done in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This discrimination comes in various ways, but the overarching theme is to exclude or diminish some people and promote others, based on race, color, or ethnicity. We have filed over 20 complaints and legal actions in less than a year since launch in February 2023.
The latest is the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where EPP filed a Civil Rights Complaint (full embed at bottom) over an educational scholarship program open only to “BIPOC” students:
We bring this civil rights complaint against the University of Wisconsin-Madison (“UW-Madison”), a public institution, for supporting and promoting a program that engages in invidious discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin.
According to the UW-Madison website, the “Creando Comunidad: Community Engaged Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Fellows” (“BIPOC Fellows”) is a UW-Madison program, offered through the university’s Morgridge Center for Public Service, designed “to connect[ ] BIPOC undergraduate students who are currently, or striving to, participate in community engagement.”1
The mission of the program is “to center and empower the strengths of BIPOC undergraduate students partaking in critical service work,” to provide them “opportunities for community building, collaboration, support, and both personal and professional development” and to “support the deconstruction of systemic oppression through critical service.”2 [image omitted]
As the name of the program suggests, a race- and ethnicity-based criterion dictates who can participate in the BIPOC Fellows program. Eligibility is restricted to undergraduate students who are “member[s] of a historically underrepresented racial or ethnic group or community.”3 [image omitted]
The phrase “Students of Color” is defined by UW-Madison as “[a] domestic (non-international) student who identifies, alone or in combination with other racial/ethnic categories, as African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic/Latino(a), or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.”5
Undergraduate students who are selected to participate in the BIPOC Fellows program receive $500 in scholarship funds and, among other requirements, must attend seven 90-minute “cohort meetings” between October 2023 and May 2024.6
UW-Madison’s voluntary and ongoing participation in and active promotion of the BIPOC Fellows program, which awards financial scholarships and mentorship to students based on their race and skin color, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VI”) and its implementing regulations. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.; 28 C.F.R. Part 100; see also Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 276 n.23 (2003) (“We have explained that discrimination that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment committed by an institution that accepts federal funds also constitutes a violation of Title VI.”).
The BIPOC Fellows program at UW-Madison makes clear that students who do not meet the prerequisite racial categories – for example, students who identify as white – are automatically ineligible.
The discrimination is apparent: if applicants are African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic/Latino(a), or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, they are automatically eligible for the program. Applicants who do not fall into one of those racial categories are automatically excluded from consideration.
It violates Title VI for a recipient of federal money to create, support and promote a racially segregated program. When a public institution does so, such conduct also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.8
The story has received substantial media coverage in Madison. Madison 365 reported:
The Equal Protection Project (EPP), a project of the right-wing Legal Insurrection Foundation, has filed a complaint with the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Right against the University of Wisconsin-Madison, alleging that the BIPOC Fellowship program run by the Morgridge Center for Public Service is illegal because it discriminates against white students.
The fellowship provides a $500 scholarship as well as mentorship and experience in community engagement work. Applicants must be an undergraduate student at UW-Madison and “a member of a historically underrepresented racial or ethnic group or community.”
“The BIPOC Fellows program at UW-Madison makes clear that students who do not meet
the prerequisite racial categories – for example, students who identify as white – are
automatically ineligible,” the complaint says. “The discrimination is apparent: if applicants are African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic/Latino(a), or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, they are automatically eligible for the program. Applicants who do not fall into one of those racial categories are automatically excluded from consideration.”
The complaint cites the recent United States Supreme Court decision prohibiting colleges and universities from considering race in admissions.
“UW-Madison needs to come up with a remedial plan to compensate students shut out of the BIPOC Fellows program on the basis of race and ethnicity. Real harm has been done to students,” EPP founder William A. Jacobson said in an email to Madison365….
WISC-TV interviewed me for its story:
News 3 Now spoke with Jacobson about the complaint. He believes the BIPOC program violates the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by awarding financial scholarships and mentorship to students based on race and skin color.
The move comes after last year’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling which found that colleges and universities are not allowed to use race in the admissions process.
“Unless you are a quote-unquote student of color you cannot participate in it. That sort of racial segregation, that sort of racial discrimination is unlawful and we’re asking the Department of Education to so find and impose the appropriate remedies on the university,” said Jacobson.
The Daily Caller News Foundation covered the story as well:
“The BIPOC Fellows program at UW-Madison discriminates on the basis of race and ethnicity,” Cornell Law School professor and EPP founder William A. Jacobson said in a statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Such blatant discrimination always has been unlawful, but any doubt was resolved by the Supreme Court recently in its affirmative action ruling. A goal of ‘diversity’ no longer can be used as an excuse to racially discriminate.” ….
“[Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] at U. Wisconsin has been in sharp focus lately, and a matter of dispute. The discriminatory BIPOC Fellows program reflects how core university and constitutional principles of equality have been damaged by DEI,” Jacobson said. “It’s time for UW-Madison to right this wrong, and to repurpose and rename the BIPOC Fellows program so that it is open and welcoming to all students regardless of race or ethnicity.”
EPP previously filed similar complaints against allegedly discriminatory programs at schools like the University of North Dakota, the State University of New York at Buffalo and Western Kentucky University.
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