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Race-based scholars program prompts complaints against University of Colorado

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(The Center Square) – The University of Colorado is facing a pair of discrimination complaints challenging its participation in a scholarship program after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year found race and ethnicity criteria violated the U.S. Constitution.

The Equal Protection Project, a branch of the Legal Insurrection Foundation, filed civil rights complaints against the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Colorado Denver with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

“We bring this civil rights complaint … for supporting, promoting a scholarship program that engages in invidious discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin,” one of the complaints states.

The University of Colorado Boulder website states it complies “with federal and state civil rights laws and is committed to providing its programs and services without discrimination in accordance with” laws and regulations. However, the complaint states the university’s participation in the McNair Scholars Program, a federal program funded at 151 institutions in the U.S. and Puerto Rico by the Department of Education, violates the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“CU Boulder’s voluntary ongoing participation in and active promotion of the McNair Scholarship program, which awards funding, research and scholarship opportunities to students based on their race and skin color, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the complaint states.

The complaint asks the Department of Education’s Office of Civil rights to “impose remedial relief as the law permits for the benefit of those who have been illegally excluded” from the scholars programs.

William A. Jacobson, founder of the Equal Protection Project, said in a statement the alleged unconstitutional discrimination affects the entire university.

“The harm from racial educational barriers is that it racializes not just the specific program, but the entire campus,” Jacobson said. “Sending a message to students that access to opportunities is dependent on race is damaging to the fabric of (the) campus.”

The complaint quotes the June U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College.

“Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it … The guarantee of equal protection cannot mean one thing when applied to one individual and something else when applied to a person of another color. If both are not accorded the same protection, then it is not equal,” the ruling says.

An email requesting comment from the University of Colorado wasn’t immediately returned by a spokesperson.

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