The University of Minnesota (UMN) has changed the eligibility criteria for a pre-health student scholars program that was illegally discriminating on the basis of race. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits such discrimination, and the Health Profession Pathways initiative at UMN was excluding certain students based on their race, color, or national origin.
In the complaint filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on May 27, 2023, Do No Harm program manager Laura Morgan provided evidence of racial discrimination in the eligibility criteria of the Pathways program. According to the program’s website (archived page), students must “Identify with one or more of the following, which included “and/or from a racial or ethnic population that is underrepresented in the health professions.”
The federal civil rights investigation was opened on November 2, then was closed on November 17 after UMN “provided OCR with information that it has revised the eligibility criteria for the Program to remove any racial criteria or preference.” On the current website, the third bullet point has been removed, and UMN informed OCR that, “during the time relevant to this complaint, the University received applications from and offered admission to the Program to students who are not Black, Mexican Americans, Native American or mainland Puerto Rican.”
“The University of Minnesota has the notoriety as being one of the worst serial offenders of federal civil rights laws in the country,” said Do No Harm senior fellow Mark Perry. “UMN has been the target of more than 25 separate complaints over the past five years for more than 50 violations of Title VI and Title IX.”
“While Do No Harm is pleased that at least one of those civil rights complaints of race-based discrimination has been successfully resolved in our favor,” Perry continued, “we are calling on Minnesota’s premier taxpayer-supported public institution to correct its dozens of other ongoing violations of federal civil rights laws.”
More institutions of higher education must remove scholarships and programs that discriminate against applicants based on race or sex. Do No Harm will continue to take action against these initiatives to compel colleges and universities to comply with federal civil rights laws and provide equal opportunity to all qualified individuals.
If your school is violating Title VI or Title IX by discriminating on the basis of race or sex, please let us know.
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