In December 2023, Do No Harm senior fellow Mark Perry secured two additional federal civil rights complaints against universities in Ohio and Michigan for violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As we recently reported, the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM) for its Physician Diversity Scholars Program. Shortly thereafter, Perry also obtained a federal civil rights investigation against the Western Michigan University (WMU) School of Medicine for its Underrepresented in Medicine Visiting Elective Scholarship Program. The informational brochure for the program confirms that the eligibility criteria require the applicant to “identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.”
While the brochure still contains the racially exclusive language in the eligibility requirements, the Visiting Medical Students page has been scrubbed of this language. At the time of Perry’s OCR complaint filing, the “Eligibility Requirements” stated that applicants “must identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, or Hispanic/Latino.”
Similar to the HCOM program, Perry called upon the DOE OCR to investigate the Visiting Scholars Program at WMU in lieu of the Health and Human Services (HHS) OCR. While there are partner medical facilities within WMed Health where students complete their electives, the school is extensively involved in supervising and administering the program, including granting credits at WMU for clinical work required for graduation.
Since our launch in April 2023, Do No Harm has filed more than 150 federal civil rights complaints with the DOE and HHS OCR offices against institutions of higher education that are discriminating on the basis of race and/or sex. These complaints have resulted in multiple favorable decisions so far to remove discriminatory and exclusionary eligibility criteria from scholarships, fellowships, and awards, or the complete discontinuation and removal of them from the universities’ websites. Our work to restore merit and achievement as the driver of the selection process in medical programs will continue into 2024 and beyond.
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