The Department of Education funds were to be obligated to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies by Sept. 30, according to a letter published Sept. 17.
Asked about the status of the funds, Press Secretary Angela Morabito from the Department did not address the funding but did reference opposition to the investigation.
“A comprehensive study of the Middle East is not anti-Muslim or pro-any other group," Morabito said in an email. "It’s just that: comprehensive. It is absurd to be accused of bigotry for recommending the inclusion of religious and ethnic minorities. Real bigotry would be ignoring or dismissing the existence of religious minorities as immaterial to a full understanding of the region."
She then directly referenced the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The ACLU alleges that this inquiry is ‘not motivated by any governing statute.’ That’s not correct,” Morabito said.
Morabito’s response came days after Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel with the ACLU, made a statement about the investigation.
“The administration’s censorship efforts undermine academic freedom and have no factual or legal basis. The administration should instead be focused on rooting out the deep-seated anti-Muslim bigotry within its own ranks,” Ruane said in a statement on the ACLU’s website.
Ruane mentioned UNC's response to the Department's letter, which said some parts of the program that the department took issue with were in fact not supported by Title VI funds.
“The statute doesn’t actually permit the DOE to require universities to comply with the administration’s idea of idealogical balance as it relates to Islam versus any other religion, or really as it relates to most other things,” Ruane said.