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Country Music Association fellowship excludes white students: federal complaint

Only racial minorities allowed in country music fellowship

Three universities are under scrutiny for their “Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship” with the Country Music Association due to its exclusion of white applicants.

The fellowship at the University of Tennessee, University of Alabama and Belmont University drew a federal racial discrimination complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

University of Michigan-Flint professor emeritus Mark Perry filed the complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and shared a copy with The College Fix.

Perry told The Fix via email that these three schools “are actively violating their legal obligation to enforce Title VI.”

“In violation of Title VI, non-BIPOC students are illegally excluded from this program and discriminated against on the basis of their race, color, or national origin,” Perry wrote in his official complaint.

Perry shared the complaint with the presidents of the three universities, hoping they will amend their program to include all students before the February 24 application deadline.

He told the university leaders that once Perry’s complaint is acknowledged and evaluated by the OCR, he is confident the government agency will side with him. This is based on his past success filing “740 Title VI and Title IX [sex discrimination] complaints,” he said.

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In his email to the three universities, Perry encouraged them to have their legal teams “conduct an internal legal review of the BIPOC-only Fellowship program” to prevent further discrimination.

The Fix emailed the three universities’ media teams twice in the past week and asked whether their attorneys had reviewed the program and if they had any comment, but none responded.

The music industry group did not respond to a January 24 College Fix request for comment on the legality of its fellowship.

Since CMA does not receive federal aid, it is not under the authority of the OCR and “could operate the BIPOC-only, no whites allowed ‘Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship’ without raising any legal issues of race-based discrimination,” Perry told The Fix.

However, since the three universities not only partner but also participate in the program and selection process, they violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

“It is a clear violation of Title VI that these three universities are illegally excluding and discriminating against certain students (white or non-BIPOCs) and denying them educational opportunities on the basis of their sex and gender identity that are being offered exclusively to BIPOC students,” Perry told The Fix.

He said in his comments to The Fix that this latest fellowship is “one more disappointing example” among dozens of universities “either being cluelessly unaware that this type of BIPOC-only (no whites allowed) discrimination is illegal or they are instead inexcusably unconcerned about violating the civil rights of certain groups (white, non-BIPOC students in this case).”

To prevent future Civil Rights Act violations, Perry suggested that universities should “undergo remedial civil rights training so that they learn that BIPOC-only, no whites allowed programs like the music Fellowship are illegal.”

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IMAGES: CMAworld.com; Mark Perry

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About the Author
Gigi De La Torre -- Franciscan University of Steubenville