Mark J. Perry, Ph.D. is a senior fellow at Do No Harm, and he’s been busy.
Mark joined us a little more than a year ago. Since then, he’s filed more than 110 complaints with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against U.S. medical schools for race-based and sex-based discrimination.
Of those complaints, 38 have been opened so far for investigation, and most have been resolved in our favor. And that’s just since Mark joined us—in total, he’s filed nearly 900 federal civil rights complaints over the last five years for more than 2,000 violations of Title VI (race-based discrimination) and Title IX (sex-based discrimination) at more than 800 colleges and universities. “There is no ‘good’ form of discrimination, regardless of your intentions. It’s all bad and illegal when it violates the law,” Mark says.
Almost every U.S. medical school has at least one scholarship, fellowship, clerkship, award, internship, special preference, or academic program that violates federal civil rights laws.
Most of the illegal discrimination taking place in medical schools involves preferences for students who are considered to be Underrepresented in Medicine (URiM), which typically includes students who are Black, Hispanic or Native American—and excludes white, Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African students.
Mark first learned of URiM programs after getting connected with Do No Harm in 2022 and has led our efforts to challenge these illegal programs ever since.
He recently filed a Title VI complaint against two illegal URiM programs at the University of Nebraska Medical Center—a scholarship and a clerkship. In response to the ensuing OCR investigation, both programs were suspended. The school has since pledged that if both programs resume in the future, they will be open to all applicants, regardless of race.
“If you’re going to provide any type of financial aid for students, it should be open to all students regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation. Because that’s the law,” Mark explains.
Anybody can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. It’s not a lawsuit, and you do not need a lawyer or a complainant with legal standing. And doing so has a real impact.
When the Chronicle of Higher Education contacted 20 of the colleges and universities that entered into formal resolutions with OCR in response to Mark’s complaints, a few of them already reported admitting applicants who would have been otherwise excluded.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Mark’s impact is that he’s not a lawyer. And he had no prior background in civil rights.
When Mark filed his first complaint, he was just an economics professor at the University of Michigan who saw blatant sex discrimination happening at a nearby school, and he had the courage to legally challenge Michigan State University’s women-only lounge.
The more he paid attention, the more he recognized that race and gender discrimination had become a widespread problem across higher education. “My goal is to force colleges and universities to protect the federally guaranteed civil rights of all students, staff, and faculty on their campuses … and end the inexcusable double standard in higher education for the selective enforcement of Title VI and Title IX,” Mark told the Daily Caller. “Simply put, Title VI and Title IX are for all.”
Mark is an inspiring example of how each one of us has the potential to make a difference, and to right a wrong in the world when we see one. Thanks to him, hundreds of educational and professional programs, scholarships, fellowships, awards, student lounges, and other educational opportunities are now accessible to everyone, equally.
Mark didn’t have to speak up. But he did. And he’s making a big difference.
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