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