NAICU Washington Update

Administration Takes More Action in National Debate on Race

September 25, 2020

The Trump Administration took several actions this week that raise the stakes in the nation’s political debate on race.  Among the actions taken was an announcement by the Education Department that it has opened an investigation of Princeton University.  According to the Department, the investigation is in response to the university’s recent declaration of steps it is taking to “combat systemic racism” on campus.
The Administration also issued an Executive Order limiting racial sensitivity training conducted by federal contractors and a related ban on certain forms of racial sensitivity training for the federal workforce.  Additionally, the Administration launched an effort to revise how slavery and other forms of racial discrimination are taught in the nation’s K-12 schools.
In the case of Princeton, the Education Department is investigating whether the university has violated grant conditions that require compliance with federal civil rights laws. The Department’s investigation is the latest in a series of recent actions taken by the Trump Administration to articulate its policy views on race discrimination in education.
As part of the investigation, the Department has demanded that Princeton produce documents and provide a written response to the allegations. In a statement, Princeton declared that it stands by its original assessment, noting that “it is unfortunate that the Department appears to believe that grappling honestly with the nation’s history and the current effects of systemic racism runs afoul of existing law. The University disagrees.”
According to the Department, the university’s statement raises concerns that Princeton made materially false statements when – as a condition of participation in the Title IV student financial aid programs – it certified its compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Under Title VI, discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in federally funded programs or activities is prohibited. It is not clear whether the Department will open a separate Title VI investigation into the university.
The Princeton investigation follows closely on the heels of a Department investigation that found that Yale University’s race-conscious admissions program violated Title VI.


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