Equal Protection Project v. Columbia Medical School (College Prep Program Restricting Eligibility to Black, Latino, Alaskan Native or American Indian Students, or Those Coming from Economically Disadvantaged Backgrounds, Challenged)

Case Particulars


Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education

Date Filed

August 19, 2023

Docket No.


Case Status

OCR Complaint Filed

Case Overview

Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons has participated in a New York State funding program — entitled the State Pre-College Enrichment Program — designed for 7-12th grade students and which contains discriminatory guidelines limiting participation to those who are Black, Latino, Alaskan native or American Indian. As for all other applicants, only those coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds may be considered eligible for the program. The applicable state law for the program does not require that any school accept the funding; the college’s participation in the program was entirely voluntary.


Students in the program can participate in two sessions: a summer session during July, Monday through Friday, and an academic-year session from October through May with programming on Saturdays.


Equal Protection Project is the Complainant in this matter, which is under evaluation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.


The application limits the applicant pool to those who “self-identify as either Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Alaskan Native or American Indian,” while White and Asian students must show that they are “economically disadvantaged” in order to be considered.