Six New York medical schools are facing civil rights complaints alleging that they discriminated against white and Asian students by making it easier for their Black counterparts to take their introductory courses.
According to Daily Mail, the complaints, filed by the nonprofit Equal Protection Project (EPP), were lodged against Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Albany Medical College, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and The University of Rochester Medical Center.
The complaints allege that New York's Science and Technology Entry Program (NY-STEP) discriminates against white and Asian students in the 7th through 12th grades by requiring them to show that they're "economically disadvantaged" to apply. Students who are Black, Latino, Alaskan Native, or American Indian do not have to follow the same requirements, according to the complaints.
William Jacobson, EPP's founder, called the "additional barrier to eligibility" illegal.
"Erecting additional barriers for some races and ethnic groups in and of itself is unlawful discrimination," Jacobson told Daily Mail. "Imagine if the roles were reversed, and these programs explicitly favored Asians and whites — there would be universal outrage and these medical schools would never accept such funding."
The program is designed to give "highly motivated" school students the opportunity to visit top medical schools, learn key skills, and receive a mentor. Its goal is to "increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students" in the medical field, according to Columbia University's website.
Jacobson, however, believes the "additional barrier" is unfair to white and Asian students.
"The eligibility guidelines engage in the types of crude stereotypes that presume students of certain racial and ethnic groups are disadvantaged and in need of preference," he said.
The civil rights complaints were filed with the Department of Education's civil rights office in New York.