NYU Hit With Civil Rights Complaint Over Whites-Only ‘Anti-Racism’ Workshop

Complaint alleges that the seminar violated four different civil rights laws

Wikimedia Commons
July 14, 2023

New York University has been hit with a federal civil rights complaint over the whites-only anti-racism workshop it hosted for public school parents, the latest in a series of legal headaches for the elite university.

The complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Education by the Equal Protection Project, alleges that the five-month-long seminar violated four civil rights laws: Titles II and VI of the Civil Rights Act, New York State’s Human Rights Law, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which bans racial discrimination in contracting.

It comes as the university is already under a consent agreement with the Education Department over several anti-Semitic incidents on campus, including a violent anti-Israel protest that resulted in two arrests.

The workshop, which cost $360 to attend, argued that white people need to "unlearn racism" without "burdening the people of color in our lives." Facilitators and attendees repeatedly made clear that no minorities were allowed, with one parent stating that she was "grateful" for the seminar’s racial homogeneity. Other parents fretted about the "white supremacy culture" inherent in their jobs as lawyers and editors, according to audio of the seminar obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

While many schools have been hit with discrimination complaints over minority-only fellowships, the NYU workshop, "From Integration to Antiracism," marks the first time in recent memory that a university has faced blowback for excluding people of color. The seminar concluded a few weeks before the Supreme Court outlawed affirmative action in college admissions, a ruling expected to upend race-conscious programs on campus and beyond.

"Eliminating racial discrimination," the Court’s decision read, "means eliminating all of it."

Though the workshop began four years ago, it did not explicitly bar minorities until 2020, according to archived webpages included in the complaint.

The Education Department "should investigate this blatantly discriminatory program and the circumstances under which the creation and promotion of it was approved," the complaint states. "NYU’s deliberate racial segregation in its FIAR workshop series constitutes invidious discrimination for which there is no legal justification."

New York University did not respond to a request for comment.