In late December, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights received two complaints against a total of seven identity-based programs associated with UNC.
More specifically, the complaints were against programs that encourage the participation of specific demographics — primarily women and students of color. These complaints alleged that certain UNC programs are in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
The complaints were filed by Mark Perry, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan-Flint and a senior fellow at Do No Harm — a group of professionals that seeks to “protect healthcare from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology."
Perry has filed suits at almost 600 other universities.
Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or national origin from organizations that receive federal funding — of which UNC is one. Similarly, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex from those same federally-funded institutions.
Perry’s initial complaint, filed on Dec. 19, focused on the Fellowship for Exploring Research in Nutrition, or FERN, which is sponsored by UNC’s Global Food Research Program. It alleged that the program violated Title IX because the website criteria specifies applicants must be students of color.
After the complaint was filed, the website was soon after changed to include all undergraduate students, and Perry withdrew his original complaint.
UNC Media Relations said in a statement that the eligibility criteria on the FERN webpage did not accurately reflect the University's commitment to inclusion and has since been corrected.
“Carolina remains committed to an inclusive and equitable community for all. A diverse student body is vital to fostering academic excellence, helping to broaden understanding among people of all backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, spurring innovation and preparing engaged citizens and future leaders,” Media Relations said.