The public university sued for its discriminatory admissions practices is currently promoting a research fellowship that excludes white applicants.
The Fellowship for Exploring Research in Nutrition is sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose affirmative action policy, along with that of Harvard University, is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. According to the program’s website, it only accepts applications from students who identify as “Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC)”. The university pays for the fellows’ on-campus housing, and they receive generous mentoring opportunities, such as letters of recommendation. Fellows also earn thousands of dollars.
An advertisement for the fellowship claims that white researchers predominate in the subject of nutrition. To create efficient, just, all-encompassing, and culturally competent policies that address nutrition-related health inequities, there needs to be a greater representation of BIPOC in food policy research.
The Office of Civil Rights in the District of Columbia received a complaint regarding the fellowship on Monday from economist Mark Perry. The Washington Free Beacon looked over the complaint, which requests that the office looks into any “race-based discrimination” at the university.
Unable to be reached for comment, UNC Chapel Hill declined to comment.
The program, which UNC Chapel Hill announced last week on its website, comes as Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on a challenge brought by the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions. The group contends that both institutions violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids racial discrimination by receivers of federal monies, and that UNC Chapel Hill is in violation of the 14th Amendment as well because it is a public university.
The conservative justices of the Supreme Court appeared sympathetic to that argument during the case’s oral arguments in October. The nutrition fellowship calls into question the school’s assertion that it does not discriminate based on race, even if, in this instance, the prejudice occurs outside the admissions office. White students are explicitly excluded from the fellowship.
Edward Blum, the founder of Students for Fair Admissions, stated that it is undeniable that this UNC student research initiative is racially exclusionary and is consequently in violation of our country’s civil rights legislation. The program is comparable to other minority-only fellowships, such as Pfizer’s Breakthrough Fellowship, that have recently been the target of discrimination lawsuits.
Colleges and universities won’t be able to utilize race as a criterion for admissions any longer if Students for Fair Admissions wins the legal battle. According to Ryan Park, the North Carolina solicitor general, such a result would prevent pupils from “the educational benefits” of diversity. Justice Clarence Thomas, up in a segregated Georgia town, asked Park to clarify his meaning during the contentious argument.
Thomas said, “I guess I don’t put much weight in that reasoning because I’ve heard similar reasons for segregation too.”