George Floyd scholarship violates civil rights law: federal complaint

"The George Floyd Scholarship eligibility requirements are openly racially discriminatory," a legal scholar said.

George Floyd
North Central University’s George Floyd scholarship violates federal civil rights law because it is only open to black students, a legal watchdog alleges. (Shutterstock)

(The College Fix) — North Central University’s George Floyd scholarship violates federal civil rights law because it is only open to black students, a legal watchdog alleges.

The private Christian university “engages in invidious discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin,” through its George Floyd Memorial Scholarship, the Equal Protection Project of the Legal Insurrection Foundation alleges.

It filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on Monday. It exclusively shared the complaint with The College Fix on Monday.

The legal foundation alleges violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits educational institutions from racial discrimination.

The Minneapolis university’s scholarship, created in June 2020, is only open to students who are “Black or African American, that is, a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa,” according to the information page.

“The George Floyd Scholarship eligibility requirements are openly racially discriminatory,” Equal Protection founder William Jacobson told The College Fix via an emailed statement on Monday. “Regardless of the purpose of the racial discrimination, it is wrong and unlawful.”

“NCU needs to come up with a remedial plan to compensate students shut out of the George Floyd Scholarship due to discrimination,” Jacobson, a Cornell University law professor, stated.

The university did not respond to two emailed requests for comment prior to the filing of the complaint.

The Fix first asked about the scholarship and its legality on March 18 and 21 after discovering the program. The Fix emailed Director of Marketing and Communications Erica Hanson again on Monday to ask about the complaint and left a voicemail. She has not responded.

The university is also violating the state’s Human Rights Act, the Equal Protection Project alleges. “Similarly, the [scholarship] defies the civil rights protections of Minnesota’s Human Rights Act, which makes it a criminal offense for an educational institution to limit access to any educational program on the basis of race,” a footnote states.

The Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling last summer is further evidence university attempts to discriminate in favor of racial groups is illegal, Equal Protection Project says.

“After the Supreme Court’s decision in [Students For Fair Admissions], it is clear that discriminating on the basis of race to achieve diversity is not lawful,” Jacobson told The Fix. “As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, ‘[e]liminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.’”

The complaint cites Justice Neil Gorsuch’s concurring opinion. It does not “matter if the recipient discriminates against an individual member of a protected class with the idea that doing so might favor the interests of that class as a whole or otherwise promote equality at the group level.”

The university “knows better,” according to Jacobson.

“NCU knows better than to run educational scholarships that exclude students based on race,” Jacobson stated. “NCU’s nondiscrimination policies absolutely forbid racial discrimination. Why isn’t NCU living up to its own rules?”

The Christian university created the scholarship to make sure campus “look[s] and acts like Heaven.”

“The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship provides a way to invest in a new generation of young Black Americans, poised and ready to be leaders in our community and our nation,” the university states.

“We believe that the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship will enable North Central University to increase our number of Black students who will impact the learning environment in a positive manner,” the university website states. “Diversifying our learning environment is key to being a University that look and acts like Heaven.”

This article was originally published at The College Fix and reprinted here with permission. 


Eleanor Blair

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