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UMN faces civil rights complaint for limiting white students in research program.

University of Minnesota Faces Civil Rights Complaint Over Restricted Research Program

The University of Minnesota has been hit with a civil rights complaint for its Multicultural Summer Research Opportunities Program, which offers a $6,000 stipend but is only open to students of color. The program is described as an “intensive 10 week summer program in which undergraduate students of color work full-time with a faculty mentor on a research project.”

Participants are required to identify as a student of color or Native American, and the program has been accused of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The complaint calls for fines, administrative proceedings, and judicial proceedings against the university.

Discrimination is Illegal Regardless of Race

The complaint argues that racial discrimination by a public institution is illegal regardless of which race suffers. Discrimination against white applicants is just as unlawful as discrimination against black or other non-white applicants. Similar complaints have been filed against universities in recent years over programs that discriminate based on race and sex.

Segregated Spaces on Campus

Other universities have implemented segregated spaces on campus in recent years. New York University introduced “themed engagement communities” to provide housing for students identifying with certain minority groups, the University of Pennsylvania created a separate “permanent shared space” for black student-athletes, and Stanford University launched a physics class specifically for minority students who do not “have the same level of preparation from high school as their majority peers.”

Supreme Court to Release Opinion on Affirmative Action

The civil rights complaint comes as the Supreme Court is expected to release an opinion on affirmative action in the higher education system. Members of the conservative majority have expressed skepticism that racial diversity truly offers educational benefits despite claims from attorneys representing Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.


Evidence suggests that elite universities disadvantage white and Asian students in their admissions processes to attain higher levels of racial and cultural diversity. One study from 2009 found that Asian students required an SAT score roughly 140 points higher than white applicants, 270 points higher than Hispanic applicants, and 450 points higher than black applicants.

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