Emory medical school hit with civil rights complaint for race-based scholarship

EXCLUSIVE — A scholarship reserved for students who “self-identify as an under-represented minority” has earned the Emory University School of Medicine a federal civil rights complaint that accuses the school of racial discrimination .

Do No Harm, a watchdog group that opposes “radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology” in the healthcare industry, filed the complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the Emory Urology Diversity and Equity Scholarship Program violates federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race.

The scholarship requires that “applicants must self-identify as an under-represented minority, and demonstrate commitment to a career in Urology. Applicants must be entering their fourth year of medical school at an accredited U.S. institution, and must have completed all of their required core rotations.”

The scholarship specifically denotes “African American, Latinx, and/or Native American” as groups the institution considers to be “underrepresented.”

The complaint accuses the university of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which states that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

If the Department of Education concludes Emory violated the act, the school could lose access to federal funding.

“As a recipient of federal funds, the university must comply with [civil rights law] and, by extension, the Equal Protection Clause,” Do No Harm’s complaint said. “The University is flagrantly violating these obligations.”

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, the board chairman of Do No Harm, said the scholarship is “illegal” and “perpetuates this notion that racism and racial activities are valid approaches in medicine.”

“This is about racial discrimination,” Goldfarb added. “This is about treating people differently because of their race. As someone who grew up in the 60s and 70s, I find this incredibly offensive and the wrong thing, it’s the wrong thing for the country, and it’s the wrong thing for healthcare to have these kinds of activities go on.”

Goldfarb said race-based programs at medical schools have become increasingly common but that most institutions enact them “without consulting their own lawyers,” who would likely inform them that such programs violate federal law.

Under Supreme Court case law, affirmative action, or the favoring of an applicant based on race, is permitted in limited circumstances in college admissions. But the Emory program explicitly states that the scholarship is reserved only for students who “self-identify” as the three listed races.

“It would be perfectly fine if they said simply we’re going to provide a scholarship for students that can’t afford the costs of coming to another institution to get this further training,” Goldfarb said. “But to do it on the basis of skin color I just feel is un-American, and I think most Americans would feel that it’s un-American.”

Emory University did not respond to a request for comment.

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