After suing the University of Minnesota for discrimination against white students during one of the institution’s summer internship programs, an instructor at an Ivy League institution in New York may have prevailed.
This spring, the University of Minnesota promoted its Multicultural Summer Research Opportunity Program to undergraduate “college students of color including Native Americans” with the expectation that those who successfully finish the program may later decide to pursue graduate studies. Qualified candidates for MSROP, which starts on June 5 and lasts through August 11, allegedly have to “identify as being a pupil of Color or a Native American” and give “demographic information” to support that racial identity. Those selected for the program would collaborate with a mentor professor and receive a $6,000 stipend while working on more difficult academic projects. The application period ended in early March and those selected for interviews received word in early April.
William Jacobson, a self-described “conservative” and professor of securities law at Cornell University, learned about the program, however, and shortly after launched a lawsuit against the university for not allowing white students to apply. “We don’t accept the growing tendency, according to Jacobson, where individuals believe that racial discrimination is OK as long as it’s done to white people, Asian people, or others.”
Jacobson probably meant his right-wing nonprofit organization, the Equal Protection Project, when he said: “we.” Jacobson and his colleague Ameer Benno wrote to the Institute for Civil Rights in the U.S. Dept. of Education on behalf of the EPP to inform them about the discriminating program at UMN and request that the OCR take action. The letter noted that “discrimination against white candidates is illegal in the same ways as it is against black people or any other non-white applicants. Racial prejudice can take no shape that is acceptable.”
It said, “OCR had the duty and authority to make UMN stop and to enforce whatever corrective relief that is required because UMN receives federal funding.” Following that, the letter outlines other actions the OCR might take, including “imposing fines” and “referring the case to the Dept. of Justice.”