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University of Utah scrubs info on doctoral program open only to black students

Comes after federal probe launched

Information about a University of Utah program open only to black students is no longer visible, following media coverage and a federal investigation of the initiative.

The removal of links for the “African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative” comes after the Department of Education launched a probe into the program and The College Fix reported on the investigation. The DOE opened an inquiry into whether the program violated Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race at institutions that receive federal funding.

However, a university spokeswoman said the investigation has nothing to do with the removal of the links.

“The University has not been processing applications for the African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative for more than two years, and the information available on the website was outdated,” Rebecca Walsh told The Fix on September 9, when asked if the DOE investigation played a role in the removal of the information.

“The University is not currently processing applications for the program,” Walsh said, when asked if students could still participate in the program.

However, the university, when asked for comment for the August article, said it could not comment because the issue was pending. It did not say the program was obsolete. “I’m writing to let you know we’ve received your email. However, we won’t be commenting pending this investigation,” Walsh stated on August 8.

Walsh did not respond to follow-up emails sent in the past week that asked if any students were still remaining in the program and for more information on why the university stopped processing applications.

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A search of Internet archives shows that the university promoted applications for the 2021-22 school year.

“Apply. Applications for the 2021-2022 academic year are now available. For any additional questions please contact us through our contact form,” an archived link shows. An October 19, 2021 link archived on Wayback Machine shows that applicants could still apply for the program.

The Fix emailed Jessica Polini at the Department of Education to ask for comment twice in the past week. Polini, the listed attorney on correspondence about the investigation, said she informed her supervisory team members and that they would be reaching out. No further comments have been provided.

Professor Mark Perry, who filed the initial complaint, theorized on what happened. He first alerted The Fix to the website changes.

“Basically, I think the University got caught ‘red-handed,’ and they are now trying to deflect, cover up, and spin their illegal race-based discrimination by suggesting that they are ‘not currently processing applications,’” the University of Michigan-Flint professor emeritus told The Fix. Perry frequently files Title VI and Title IX complaints against universities.

“I’m confident that if I had not filed at Title VI complaint and if the Denver OCR had not opened a federal civil rights investigation, that the racially discriminatory AADSI program would have continued indefinitely,” Perry said.

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IMAGE: University of Utah

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About the Author
Isaac Ebury -- Stetson University