Mich. pro­fes­sor chal­lenges women-only schol­ar­ships at U.Va.’s busi­ness school

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - LOCAL PERSPECTIVES - BY RUTH SERVEN SMITH

CHAR­LOTTESVILLE

— A Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan at Flint pro­fes­sor has com­plained about eight Uni­ver­sity of Vir­ginia’s Dar­den School of Busi­ness schol­ar­ships, say­ing they dis­crim­i­nate against men.

Mark Perry, a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics, sent a com­plaint to U.Va.’s Ti­tle IX of­fice last week about the sin­gle-gen­der, women-only schol­ar­ships at Dar­den, as well as the Forte Foun­da­tion Fel­lows pro­gram, which con­nects fe­males who re­ceive merit-based schol­ar­ships to net­work­ing and lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties. He asked the of­fice to in­ves­ti­gate whether U.Va.

“is en­gag­ing in on­go­ing, sys­tem­atic and il­le­gal sex/ gen­der-based dis­crim­i­na­tion, in vi­o­la­tion of Ti­tle IX stan­dards and U.Va.’s own stated pol­icy of nondis­crim­i­na­tion based on gen­der,” ac­cord­ing to his com­plaint. Male stu­dents and stu­dents who do not iden­tify with ei­ther gen­der are be­ing de­nied equal ac­cess to fi­nan­cial aid, he said.

How­ever, the op­por­tu­ni­ties in his com­plaint are funded by pri­vate money and ac­com­pany a host of other schol­ar­ship and aid pro­grams at U.Va.’s grad­u­ate busi­ness school.

Ti­tle IX pro­tects peo­ple from dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex in ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties that re­ceive fed­eral fund­ing. Perry has suc­cess­fully lob­bied for changes to sin­gle­gen­der schol­ar­ships at the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota and the clo­sure of a women’s lounge at Michi­gan State Uni­ver­sity.

Wes Hester, a spokesman for U.Va., said Wed­nes­day that the Of­fice for Equal Op­por­tu­nity and Civil Rights was eval­u­at­ing Perry’s com­plaint.

While Ti­tle IX tries to en­sure that peo­ple of all gen­ders re­ceive equal op­por­tu­ni­ties at U.Va. and at Dar­den, that doesn’t mean all money from pri­vate funds has to be avail­able equally to women and men, ex­perts said.

Erin Buzu­vis, a pro­fes­sor at West­ern New Eng­land Uni­ver­sity and an ex­pert in Ti­tle IX, said uni­ver­si­ties can of­fer sexre­stricted schol­ar­ships es­tab­lished by a will or trust or foun­da­tion when they are part of an over­all fi­nan­cial aid pro­gram that is not dis­crim­i­na­tory.

“I think the drafters of the Ti­tle IX reg­u­la­tions did not want to put uni­ver­si­ties in the po­si­tion of hav­ing to turn down money peo­ple want to do­nate to their stu­dents and tried to im­part some flex­i­bil­ity about this,” she said.

In a state­ment, Hester said the Forte Foun­da­tion pro­gram was run by an un­re­lated third party and the schol­ar­ships were of­fered by the in­de­pen­dent Dar­den Foun­da­tion and do not in­volve fed­eral or state funds.

“Dar­den re­mains com­mit­ted to a di­verse and in­clu­sive class­room ex­pe­ri­ence,” Hester said.

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