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TikTok donated millions to U.S. universities for race-based medical scholarships: report

Not only has TikTok’s parent company donated $10 million to U.S. universities for race-based medical scholarships, most of the campuses failed to report the donations in violation of federal law, according to a report in National Review.

Ten universities signed gift agreements with TikTok starting in 2020 as part of its Health Heroes Relief Fund initiative, receiving $1 million each to “ensure the success of future Black, Latinx, and Indigenous health heroes,” with the money to be distributed as scholarships to students pursuing medicine, according to the Sept. 5 report by Neetu Arnold with the National Association of Scholars.

All but one of the campuses that received the funds, University of South Dakota, are minority-serving institutions, and USD is the only campus that reported the funds to the Department of Education, according to Arnold.

But “the Higher Education Act requires universities to report gifts of $250,000 or more in a calendar year that are ‘owned or controlled’ by a foreign source,” National Review reported, adding:

It is not apparent from USD’s report that the originator of this gift is actually a multinational corporation based in China. I learned about this gift only through an open-records request to USD as part of a larger National Association of Scholars project on foreign funds. Clearly, more-detailed information, such as the donor name, should be required for disclosure.

Besides issues of disclosure noncompliance, TikTok’s gift fed into the racial politics of medicine and may even violate the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action. USD, the only non-minority-serving institution to receive the gift, was specifically instructed to allocate “at least $500,000” of its gift to scholarships for “enrolled members of federally recognized Indian tribes or part of any other population historically underrepresented” in medical or health sciences.

Arnold concludes the report by noting “USD said that they are still administering funds from this scholarship, which should prompt state lawmakers to investigate whether racial or ethnic information is used to make award decisions.”

MORE: Chinese influence on higher ed remains concern of Congress

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