Sixteen Discriminatory Scholarships at Western Illinois U. Challenged By Equal Protection Project

2024-02-27 18:10:31

The Equal Protection Project (EPP) ( of the Legal Insurrection Foundation has challenged numerous racially discriminatory programs done in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, including race-based and racially exclusionary scholarships.

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

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. Many of our actions are the result of tips.  We received a tip of a discrimination problem at Western Illinois University (WIU), and our research revealed a systemic discrimination problem spanning at least sixteen (16) scholarships.

We have filed a Civil Rights Complaint (full embed at bottom of post) with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education, which reads in part:

We bring this civil rights complaint against the Western Illinois University (“WIU”), a public institution, for offering and promoting sixteen (16) discriminatory scholarships that either restrict eligibility to students who are “African American,” “Black Women,” “Latino,” or students who identify as “LGBTQI+.” or give preference to such students. The number and scope of these discriminato1y programs reflects a systemic discrimination problem at WTIJ, and we urge OCR to prioritize its review and promptly open an investigation and take action.

Those scholarships that disc1iminate based on race and skin color violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VI”) and its implementing regulations.2 Those that discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation/gender identity violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) and its implementing regulations. 3 And, because WTIJ is a public institution, all of these discriminatory scholarships violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


Accordingly, we respectfully ask that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights prioritize and expedite this complaint given the apparent systemic discrimination at WIU, promptly open a formal investigation, impose such remedial relief as the law permits for the benefit of those who have been illegally excluded from these WIU scholarships based on discriminatory criteria, and ensure that all ongoing and future programming through WIU comports with the Constitution and federal civil rights laws.

Here is a sampling of the discriminatory scholarships:

The filing has been covered by local WGEM:

WGEM News reached out to university officials who said it was the first they had heard of the complaint, but they take all complaints seriously.

“We will take this matter seriously, as we do with any complaint against the university, and we will work to ensure we are in compliance with all applicable laws,” said Alisha Looney, interim assistant vice president.

After reviewing the complaint, WIU Professor of Sociology Robert Hironimus-Wendt told WGEM News that most of these scholarships are endowed by individuals, not the university.

He stated, “Dr. Essie Rutledge is a former colleague of mine, and the founder of the African American Studies program at WIU. She retired several years back and left a pool of money to provide for deserving students to attend Western and study African American issues. The university does not provide the scholarship, she does through her ongoing donations to the scholarship.”

Contrary to the Sociology Professor quoted above, it doesn’t matter legally how the scholarships were endowed, they are administered by the university, promoted on the university website, and directed at university students.

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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to the full extent allowed by law.

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Sixteen Discriminatory Scholarships at Western Illinois U. Challenged By Equal Protection Project


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