The United States Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an investigation into Boise State University’s discriminatory scholarship program.
The OCR complaint (Reference Number 10-22-2061) alleges that “the University is discriminating against male students, based on sex, by offering the Boise State Women in STEM, Medicine, and Law Scholarship, for which only female students are eligible.” Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits any discrimination on the basis of sex in all institutions that receive federal financial assistance.
Mark Perry, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Michigan, filed the complaint. Perry thinks Boise State, like many universities, is either “ignorant of federal civil rights laws” or “so unconcerned about discrimination against men that universities routinely violate their civil rights.” He has uncovered more than 1,200 such Title IX violations across the country, which shows that there is “unaddressed systemic sexism” mostly against men in our higher education system that needs “greater awareness, exposure, and legal challenges.”
Currently, there are 155 Title IX investigations into single-sex scholarships underway across the country, out of a total of 1,528 total Title IX investigations. Perry has filed 435 Title IX and Title VI complaints with the OCR for sex and race discrimination at colleges and universities which have led to 235 federal civil rights investigations so far, of which 135 were resolved, mostly in his favor.
The scholarship program was established by BSU student Ally Orr, in response to a BSU professor’s video criticizing feminism at a national conference. Orr has celebrated her female-only scholarship in national media. According to Good Morning America, the scholarship will provide “money annually to one female student” starting in Fall 2022. Orr also emphasized that the scholarship is available to females only in Inside Higher Education and on The Hill.
Boise State also emphasizes how only women are eligible for the scholarship. It named the scholarship the Women in STEM, Medicine, and Law Scholarshipto verify that men are not eligible. BSU’s promotion of the scholarship to donors states that “this scholarship was created to help female students at Boise State feel supported to pursue any degree and career path they choose.” Donors would logically conclude the scholarship is for females-only. The university’s website hosts the scholarship while emphasizing how the scholarship is female-only.
BSU plans to award its first Women in STEM, Medicine and Law scholarship near the end of April, where several “women empowering organizations” from Boise intend to join Orr to celebrate the female-only scholarship and its first recipient
According to Perry, Boise State cannot “legally defend the female-only scholarship that is now being investigated.” The only way to possibly save the scholarship, according to Perry, would be for BSU to create a “pool and match” program where the university would have to set aside an equal amount of scholarship money for male-only scholarships to “offset the special funding for female students.” But that would counteract and neutralize the intended goal of the scholarship, which is to give female students an advantage over male students in receiving financial aid, according to Perry.
Boise State has, so far, declined to comment on the ongoing investigation. According to sources within the university, Boise State will try to justify the program under the “pool and match” approach. The university has also not commented on whether it will proceed with the scholarship ceremony while the investigation is underway. Attempts to contact Ally Orr have not yielded any comments either.
Note: This article was first published on Action Idaho’s website on March 27, 2022 and is reposted here with permission.
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