[guest post by JVW]
For my money, Betsy DeVos has emerged as the absolute star of the Trump Administration (which, to be sure, isn’t exactly a Dream Team of administrative talent). This is sweet justice, because no cabinet member was met with so much coordinated hatred from a powerful left-wing advocacy group (teacher’s unions), nor so much snide carping from smug and tedious leftists who hate her because she’s wealthy and because she refuses to sing from the hymn book of John Dewey and Michel Foucault. She has put up with the slings and arrows from the obnoxious educrats, yet to the degree possible in our sclerotic federal government she has undertaken the work of making a clean break from Barack Obama’s weak policies and malevolent campus politics.
So I have nothing but respect for Secretary DeVos, who won’t abide by the ongoing and pervasive racism that exists at some of our oldest and most elite institutions of higher education. No, this time I’m not talking about how Asian-American kids are screwed in the admissions process; I refer here today to the recent disclosure by the president of Princeton University (the alma mater of Michelle Robinson Obama!), Christopher Eisgruber (’83), that racism at the school is “systemic” and “embedded.” In the spirit of institutional self-flagellation, Mr. Eisgruber acknowledged (with bold emphasis added by me):
Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton as in our society, sometimes by conscious intention but more often through unexamined assumptions and stereotypes, ignorance or insensitivity, and the systemic legacy of past decisions and policies. Race-based inequities in America’s health care, policing, education, and employment systems affect profoundly the lives of our staff, students, and faculty of color.
Racist assumptions from the past also remain embedded in structures of the University itself. For example, Princeton inherits from earlier generations at least nine departments and programs organized around European languages and culture, but only a single, relatively small program in African studies.
Having confessed to the crime, Old Nassau shouldn’t have been surprised that the government might want to take a look-see, to further determine if the university hasn’t engaged in fraud of some sort or other. So, according to the Washington Examiner, a letter went out from Secretary DeVos outlining the steps the department planned to take. The Examiner quotes the letter as follows:
Based on its admitted racism, the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) is concerned Princeton’s nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false,” the letter reads. “The Department is further concerned Princeton perhaps knew, or should have known, these assurances were false at the time they were made. Finally, the Department is further concerned Princeton’s many nondiscrimination and equal opportunity claims to students, parents, and consumers in the market for education certificates may have been false, misleading, and actionable substantial misrepresentations in violation of 20 U.S.C. § 1094(c)(3)(B) and 34 CFR 668.71(c). Therefore, the Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education, in consultation with the Department’s Office of the General Counsel, is opening this investigation.
The Examiner article goes on to explain what Princeton might expect next:
What the Department seeks to obtain from its investigation is what evidence Princeton used in its determination that the university is racist, including all the records regarding Eisgruber’s letter and a “spreadsheet identifying each person who has, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, been excluded from participation in, been denied the benefits of, or been subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance as a result of the Princeton racism or ‘damage’ referenced in the President’s Letter.” Eisgruber and a “designated corporate representative” must sit for interviews under oath, and Princeton must also respond to written questions regarding the matter.
Multiple people familiar with the matter have confirmed the letter’s validity and assert that this investigation is not political. Instead, they insist that the department has a legal obligation to investigate a supposedly self-admitted violation of federal civil rights protections.
The Education Department regularly investigates universities for violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act in their handling of campus sexual assault and misconduct allegations. This investigation, while not identical, could prove similar.
Sauce for the goose; sauce for the gander. I can’t wait for Princeton’s lawyers to explain to the Education Department that Mr. Eisgruber didn’t really mean what he wrote in his open letter to the community.
Three cheers for Secretary DeVos.