Kansas State Univ “Scholarship has eliminated the preference based on race, color, or national origin” After Equal Protection Project Legal Challenge

2024-02-05 18:00:44

The Equal Protection Project (EPP) (EqualProtect.org) of the Legal Insurrection Foundation has challenged numerous racially discriminatory programs done in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

This discrimination comes in various ways, but the overarching theme is to exclude or diminish some people and promote others, based on race, color, or ethnicity. EPP now has filed over 20 civil rights complaints with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education, and other actions, leading numerous institutions to alter or drop their discriminatory practices.

You may remember EPP’s challenge to a Kansas State U Racially-Discriminatory “Multicultural” Scholarship, known as  the “Joey Lee Garmon Undergraduate Multicultural Student Scholarship”

To be eligible, applicants “must be of an ethnic group that has been historically and traditionally oppressed in the achievement of academic and leadership endeavors,” with special preference given to “applicants of African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Latinx American heritage”. You can read the full Civil Rights Complaint.

The challenge received a fair amount of media coverage.

As has happened in other cases of ours, the institution ceased the discriminatory promotion of the scholarship, and OCR “dismissed” the case based on mootness, because the offending conduct had ceased. If we can win based on a legal challenge and naming and shaming bad conduct inducing the perpetrator to change, we’ll take it.

Here is an excerpt from the OCR Letter we received today telling us is was “dismissing” the complaint because Kansas State had discontinued the disriminatory eligibility guidelines (emphasis added):

This letter is to notify you that the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR),
has completed its evaluation of the above referenced complaint against Kansas State University
(University), located in Manhattan, Kansas alleging discrimination based on race, color, or
national origin. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the University subjects students to
discrimination on the bases of race, color, or national origin, by giving preference to applicants
for the Joey Lee Garmon Undergraduate Multicultural Scholarship (the Scholarship), who are
African American, Native American, Asian American, and of Latinx American Heritage. This
letter is to inform you OCR is now dismissing the complaint, as explained fully below.

Section 110(d) of OCR’s Case Processing Manual states that OCR will dismiss a complaint if
OCR obtains credible information indicating that the allegation(s) has been resolved, and there is
no systemic allegation(s).

At the time the complaint was filed, the University was advertising the Scholarship, which gave
a preference to African American, Native American, Asian American, and Latinx American
applicants. During the course of OCR’s investigation, the University eliminated this preference
and altered its public-facing webpage to reflect that the Scholarship is directed toward students of any race or ethnicity, who (1) “have experienced oppression based on their race or ethnicity”
and (2) “have a strong record and motivation to pursue social justice activism as a result of their
experience.” Because the Scholarship has eliminated the preference based on race, color, or
national origin, OCR is dismissing the complaint pursuant to Section 110(d).

The current scholarship website now emphasizes it is open to students of “of any ethnic group” (emphasis added):

The Joey Lee Garmon Undergraduate Student Scholarship is directed toward students who have experienced oppression based on their race or ethnicity and who have a strong record and motivation to pursue social justice activism as a result of their experience.  Applicants must complete an application and submit an essay that discusses how racial or ethnic oppression has affected them as individuals and how it has led them to pursue social justice activism.  Applicants may be of any ethnic group.

The application now asks:

* Applicants must write a two-page essay reflecting on:

• How racial or ethnic oppression has affected you as individual and how it has led you to pursue
social justice activism.

The university appears to be availing itself of the narrow opening recognized in the Harvard case that:

“nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise …. But, despite the dissent’s assertion to the contrary, universities may not simply establish through application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today…. In other words, the student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race.”

As I noted at the time, the elimination of discriminatory conditions does not mean the discrimination will go away. It might just be pushed behind closed doors, and perhaps that is what will happen with the Joey Garmon Scholarship. That make’s EPP’s job more difficult, but more essential.

For now, we’ll take this victory.

We are continuing to act on tips and to seek out opportunities to challenge discrimination done in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. But we need your help. We are a small organization going up against powerful and wealthy government and private institutions devoted to DEI discrimination. Donations are greatly needed and appreciated.

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