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University airline program discriminates on basis of race: federal civil rights complaint

Program ‘aimed at hiring racial and ethnic minority pilots’

A federal civil rights complaint alleges California Baptist University discriminates on the basis of race.

Its joint “True North Program” aims to increase the number of racial minority pilots in conjunction with Alaska Airlines.

“True North was the first-of-its-kind pilot development program in the airline industry aimed at hiring racial and ethnic minority pilots and creating the fastest path to fly for Alaska Airlines,” a representative for the company stated in an announcement.

“Partnering with CBU — who has a strong reputation in the industry for its aviation science program — is just one way Alaska is working to increase the company’s racial diversity at all levels,” Captain Ronald Limes stated.

But this program violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to Professor Mark Perry.

The retired professor, now a full-time civil rights activist, recently filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

“Note that the University’s program only ‘supports minority aviation students at CBU,’ but illegally excludes and discriminates against non-minority students based on their race, color, or national origin,” Perry wrote in the complaint shared with The College Fix.

The OCR has yet to open an investigation as of Wednesday, Perry told The Fix.

He quoted language from the program as evidence to support his claim of discrimination to the government office.

“The CBU and Alaska Airlines partnership represents a true collaboration of shared values, with both organizations committed to helping break down economic and professional development barriers that racial and ethnic minority groups may face,” Provost Charles Sands stated.

Perry told the government office: “In violation of Title VI the University’s minority-only ‘joint venture in illegal discrimination’ with Alaska Airlines (and its True North Program) illegally excludes non-minority students and discriminates against them based on their race, color, or national origin. Please investigate the University for illegal discrimination based on race and ethnicity in violation of Title VI.”

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Perry is optimistic the OCR will open an investigation and force the Baptist university to modify its program. “I fully expect that OCR will rule in my favor and force CBU and Alaska Airlines to stop their unlawful discrimination,” Perry told The Fix via email.

He said CBU can either end its joint venture or open it up to all races in order to make the program legal.

There are many reasons why schools create programs that illegally discriminate against students on account of their race, according to Perry.

For California Baptist University in particular, Perry said “there is a huge financial benefit to CBU and its students who can receive ‘up to $50,000 in flight training tuition support and a direct path to becoming a first officer for Alaska Airlines upon graduation.’”

Perry said there are other reasons beside money that universities may establish such programs.

He said schools “frequently accept external funding that requires them to engage in illegal discrimination without doing their due diligence and conducting a proper legal review to ensure that a scholarship or program isn’t an unlawful violation of federal civil rights laws.”

He said administrators “aren’t even aware that discriminatory programs like True North are unlawful because that type of illegal discrimination is so widespread and systemic throughout higher education.”

California Baptist and Alaska Airlines did not respond to two emails and a phone call in the past month that asked if attorneys had reviewed the legality of the programs and if they would comment on the complaint.

Editor’s noteMark Perry is a paid consultant to The College Fix on an unrelated project.

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IMAGE: Alaska Airlines

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Eleanor Blair is a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville studying Humanities and Catholic Culture.