Josh Verges, Pioneer Press, May 27, 2021
Scholarships created at several Minnesota universities in memory of George Floyd may violate federal anti-discrimination laws, according to a professor’s complaints.
Mark Perry, a retired University of Michigan-Flint professor living in Mendota Heights, this week asked the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to open Title VI investigations against five universities.
Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act prohibits colleges and other programs that receive federal assistance from discriminating on the basis of “race, color or national origin.”
Perry says some of the George Floyd scholarships do just that by targeting the awards to Black students at the exclusion of others.
“While it’s a commendable idea, it’s unfortunately illegal for universities to discriminate on the basis of race and skin color,” Perry said.
North Central University in Minneapolis, which established what appears to be the nation’s first George Floyd scholarship two weeks after the killing, is among the schools Perry has cited.
The criteria for their award says recipients “must be a student who is Black or African American.”
Perry also has filed complaints against:
- St. Catherine University, whose Floyd scholarship will go to “one Black American student pursuing a degree or career that promotes social justice issues, specifically those related to racism.”
- Hamline University, which targets “African-American students.”
- Bethel University, which targets “incoming students of African American or Black heritage.”
- The University of Minnesota, which has Floyd scholarships open to undergraduates across the system, as well as targeted awards for students at the Law School, Duluth campus and Carlson School of Management. The U says the awards will go to students who “will enhance the diversity of the student body as described by the University. An additional consideration will be given for Black or African American students.”
Many colleges across the country have created scholarships in Floyd’s memory. While some give preference or are exclusive to Black students, others do not.
When it established the Floyd scholarship in June, the U initially did not say they would give preference to Black students. Language about Black students getting “additional consideration” was added only after students advocated for race-exclusive criteria, according to the Minnesota Daily.