The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has made significant changes to discriminatory scholarships and programs in the College of Medicine that were named in a federal civil rights complaint filed by Do No Harm senior fellow Mark Perry.
We reported last December that MUSC was being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for eight scholarships and programs that discriminate on the basis of race/ethnicity or sex/gender identity.
As a result of the federal investigation, MUSC has either amended or dropped the programs that contained eligibility criteria that excluded applicants who are not defined as “underrepresented in medicine” (URM). Excluding potential applicants based on race/ethnicity is a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits such discrimination. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex/gender identity.
The OCR recently informed Dr. Perry that the investigation is being closed, as “credible information indicating that the complaint has been resolved” was received. Specifically, MUSC changed the “Underrepresented in Medicine Visiting Student Program,” which limited eligibility to students who are “Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander,” to the “Achieving Health Equity by Advancing Diversity (AHEAD)” Visiting Student Program. The updated information states, “AHEAD-VSP is open to students from underrepresented groups” with no mention of specific race/ethnicity requirements to apply.
MUSC has also updated the narratives associated with its College of Medicine Diversity Scholarships:
- The Jerry and Jenny Reeves, M.D. Diversity Endowed Scholarship description now states, “particular attention will be given to applicants that demonstrate academic merit and financial need” instead of “applicants who represent a group that is underrepresented in medicine.”
- The Rose Delores Gibbs, M.D. Endowed Scholarship was available to “a current female URM student,” but now includes the same statement regarding merit and need without mentioning sex or gender identity.
- The Costal Community Foundation Thaddeus Bell, M.D. Scholarship was limited to applicants who are “Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander,” but is no longer listed on the diversity scholarships webpage.
More changes have been made at MUSC as a result of the OCR investigation. Programs that have been completely removed from the university’s Student Diversity Programs page include the Student Diversity Transition Forum, the Visiting Externship Program (which invited “URM medical students [African American, Native American, Hispanic, and Native Hawaiian]” to apply), the Student Ambassadors and Peer Mentors Program, and the Residency Diversity Forum. Finally, the Mentoring Ensures Medical School Success (MEMS) program, which was previously described as an opportunity “to provide College of Medicine under-represented in medicine students” with mentoring, now says it “does not exclude any student based on race, ethnicity, or sex.”
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