(The Center Square) – A new California community college pre-faculty training program is marketed as only available to non-white graduate students, leading to calls of discrimination.
In a program hosted at Compton Community College in partnership with the University of Southern California, a “Faculty Prep Academy” for “students of color” will prepare 30 currently enrolled master’s and doctoral students of color and prepare them to become faculty members, reports Campus Reform.
The program will pair students with mentors who are already faculty members, and will help them draft cover letters and resumes, and be introduced to other faculty and administrators to help them secure full-time faculty positions.
Participants will have their direct costs of attendance covered by the program. While it is unclear where funding for the program originated, CCC does receive federal grant funding for tuition, and received $20.5 million from the COVID-19-era Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
Experts on higher education contend the program is likely illegal; while the program application does not include a race category, the fact that it is marketed as a program for “students of color” makes it appear likely that CCC will only consider non-white applicants.
“If CCC is federally funded, it falls under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which makes racial discrimination by federally funded organizations outright illegal (even if for a valid business purpose),” said Neetu Arnold, Research Fellow, National Association of Scholars, to The Center Square. “However, note that the eligibility criteria in the application does not include race. This is probably an attempt to avoid litigation, but given the way the program is marketed it’s highly likely that they would not seriously consider non-POC students in the decision process.”
“Anti-discrimination law treats outreach and recruitment programs more leniently,” continued Arnold. “However, I think because this program offers actual resources to participants it shouldn’t be considered in this category legally.”
Arnold further contends that this program could be discriminatory for its apparent exclusion of non-white applicants.
“A person who is not a minority will likely be discouraged from applying, even if the school tries to argue that it is technically open to all former California community college students. If the resources offered are truly valuable as the program description advertises, then non-POC students are harmed by being excluded,” Arnold said.