Noteworthy BriefsFebruary 18, 1999 |
Stanford Under Federal Investigation For Discrimination
STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford University is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor for potential violation of federal affirmative action law and gender discrimination.
The federal investigation was prompted, in part, by statements made by the university’s outgoing provost, Condoleezza Rice who has repeatedly expressed reservations about the goals and timetables at the heart of the university’s affirmative action policy.
“When you set numerical goals and timetables,” she says, “you devalue the individual [faculty] appointments that you make.”
Rice’s statements “contain the suggestion that she doesn’t believe in affirmative action programs and the university didn’t have one,” says Gary Buff, the Labor Department attorney who forwarded the case for investigation.
“If that’s the case, that’s a potential violation,” he said.
Last year, more than a dozen female Stanford researchers sent the Labor Department a 400-page report alleging gender discrimination and affirmative action violations. One doctor claims she was forced to submit grant proposals in the name of male colleagues with less experience in her field. Another says she was ordered to give a male coworker a cut of her research grant money.
Stanford has been under investigation since November, but the probe was only made public this month by the San Jose Mercury News. Like most postsecondary institutions, as a recipient of more than $500 million annually in federal contracts and grants, Stanford is obligated to follow federal affirmative action guidelines.
Universities Targeted by Conservative Ad Campaign
WASHINGTON — Conservative organizations that say top U.S. colleges are illegally using racial preferences in admissions are producing reports to support their claim and, in some cases, taking their case to the nation’s college newspapers.
As a result, a committee appointed by the University of Virginia’s (UVA) board of visitors plans to study whether the institution is violating the law by enforcing affirmative action in admissions.
The committee, established last month, will examine the university’s admissions policies and examine whether board members could be held personally liable in a lawsuit.
The decision to form the committee came three days after the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative legal group, threatened to seek damages from individual trustees of universities that give admission preference to minorities. The threats were implied in ads the CIR placed in 15 college newspapers across the nation.
The newspaper ads, headlined “Guilty by Admission,” charge that nearly every elite college in the United States violates the law.
But many educators say the law firm has misrepresented 20 years of court rulings and overstated colleges’ efforts to bring diversity to their campuses.
The center issued two 30-page handbooks it says are intended to help students identify discrimination and to help institutions keep from getting sued, but critics say the handbooks are designed to incite lawsuits.
“Colleges very clearly understand they may not use quotas,” says Norma Cantú, the assistant secretary for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, referring to programs that don’t consider a student’s merit. “There’s no need for a handbook.”
Additionally, the Washington-based Center for Equal Opportunity recently released data from a study showing that some of Virginia’s top public universities favor Black applicants over whites who scored higher on standardized tests.
The CEO studied SAT scores and high school grades for 1996 applicants to 10 public colleges and universities in the state. It found a Black high school student is 45 times more likely to be admitted to UVA than a White student with the same SAT scores.
“It’s understandable that the board of visitors … would be meeting in regards to this most volatile issue. But I also think we have a special and unfulfilled obligation to African American students,” says Dr. M. Rick Turner, the university’s dean of African American affairs.
More Cancer Research on Ethnic Minorities and Poor Urged by Study
WASHINGTON — A report by the Institute of Medicine has urged the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to increase efforts to determine why poor Americans and some ethnic minorities are more susceptible to develop and die from certain cancers. The Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Medicine (IOM), which is affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences, released the study “The Unequal Burden of Cancer: An Assessment of NIH Research and Programs for Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved” on Jan. 20, 1999.
The report found that the National Cancer Institute, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, spends only 1 percent of its budget — or $24 million — on studies of ethnic and medically underserved groups,
“With the population becoming increasingly diverse, it is critical that we learn why some ethnic minorities and the medically underserved are more prone to cancer and less likely to survive it,” said study committee chair Dr. M. Alfred Haynes, former president and dean, Drew Postgraduate Medical School.
For reasons not fully understood, Asian Americans are more likely to develop stomach and liver cancer than White Americans; African American men are disproportionately affected by prostrate cancer; and cervical cancer is higher among Hispanic and Vietnamese American women, according to the study.
Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan, who testified before an U.S. Senate panel in Washington in late January, underscored the study’s conclusions.
“What is needed is an exponential leap forward in the orientation of NIH officials with respect to their approach to ethnic minorities and underserved communities,” Sullivan told a Senate appropriations panel.
Sullivan, who served as HHS secretary during the Bush Administration, said the study “clearly demonstrates that much more needs to be done to address the needs of the nation’s minority citizens.”
The National Institutes of Health funded the study. The Institute of Medicine is a private, nonprofit organization that issues health policy advice under a congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences.
Copies of “The Unequal Burden of Cancer: An Assessment of NIH Research and Programs for Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved” are available from the National Academy Press. The National Academy Press can be reached at 1-800-624-6242.
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