Equal Protection Project v. Ithaca College

Case Particulars


U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Date Filed

June 24, 2024

Docket No.


Case Status

OCR Complaint Filed

Case Overview

On June 24, 2024, the Equal Protection Project (EPP) filed a Civil Rights Complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), alleging that Ithaca College, located in Ithaca, New York, is creating, supporting and promoting two racially discriminatory scholarships for undergraduate students. Only undergraduate “students of color” are allowed to participate in these
scholarship programs, and applicants who do not meet the race- and color-based criterion are ineligible for them.


Because the scholarships discriminate based on race and skin color, they violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VI”) and its implementing regulations. Title VI prohibits intentional discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any “program or activity” that receives federal financial assistance. The term “program or activity” means “all of the operations of … a department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or of a local government” and each state government agency “to which the assistance is extended.” As Ithaca College receives federal funds, it is subject to Title VI.


Of note, this is not the first time Ithaca College has been the subject of Civil Rights Complaints for racially discriminatory programs. One of the prior programs was the subject of an article in The College Fix in October 2022, Ithaca College scrubs minorities-only pre-med program after complaint. And Ithaca College was also thew subject of an OCR Complaint over the Martin Luther King (“MLK”) Scholars Program which restricted eligibility to “PoC students” (students of color). That complaint was dismissed as “moot” by OCR after Ithaca College modified the eligibility criteria.


Regardless of Ithaca College’s reasons for creating, offering and promoting the two present scholarships, it is violating federal civil rights statutes by doing so.


EPP is the Complainant in this matter and the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights  is evaluating EPP’s Complaint.

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