Economist Calls For Investigation Into University’s Research Fellowship That Bars White Students

Economist Mark Perry is accusing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of race-based discrimination. In a complaint filed with the District of Columbia’s Office of Civil Rights on Monday, Perry asked the office to investigate the university.

The UNC-Chapel Hill is advertising a research fellowship that bars white applicants from applying after it was taken to court over its race-conscious admissions policy. Now, the Fellowship for Exploring Research in Nutrition which it sponsors, only considers applicants who are “Black, Indigenous or People of Color.”

If you don’t fall under this category, you stand no chance of being a fellow in the program and, therefore, will miss the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars, among other benefits. According to the program’s website, fellows are provided on-campus apartments paid for by the university, as well as generous mentorship opportunities such as letters of recommendation.

An ad for the fellowship states that the field of nutrition “overwhelmingly” consists of white researchers, hence the need for “increased BIPOC representation in food policy research.” It added that the recruitment of more BIPOC fellows would help develop “effective, equitable, comprehensive and culturally competent policies that address nutrition-related health disparities.”

The Fellowship for Exploring Research in Nutrition comes as UNC-Chapel Hill’s affirmative action program, as well as that of Harvard University, is being reviewed by the Supreme Court after Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit opposed to affirmative action, filed a lawsuit against the schools.

Race and ethnicity are some of the factors considered by UNC-Chapel Hill when it tries to decide who to get into the school among thousands of applicants.

Students for Fair Admissions argue that UNC-Chapel Hill is in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination by the recipients of federal funds. It also accuses the school of violating the 14th Amendment, which does not allow racial discrimination by the government.

UNC-Chapel Hill is a public university, and as such, any action or policy it carries out is seen as that of the government.

“It is indisputable that UNC student research program is racially exclusive and therefore is in violation of our nation’s civil rights laws,” said the Founder of Students for Fair Admissions, Edward Blum.

On the other hand, the solicitor general for North Carolina, Ryan Park, arguments were based on the “educational benefits” of diversity.

The case has major implications for how public universities in the United States will admit students in the future. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the organization, it becomes illegal for colleges and universities to use race as a factor when admitting students.