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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Majority Whip Tom Emmer (MN-06), Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) and House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development Chairman Burgess Owens (UT-04) joined a letter led by Congressman Brad Finstad (MN-01) to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon expressing concern about recent reports of discrimination within an undergraduate internship program at the University of Minnesota open to only non-white applicants.

The letter outlines Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which expressly prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. In part, the letter reads:

“The University’s decision to offer this program only to Students of Color and Native Americans was in clear violation of this law and others that were put in place to protect all students from this form of discrimination. Discrimination under the guise of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is still discrimination, and it is reprehensible that the University of Minnesota has fostered this type of learning environment.”

“It is illegal and flat-out wrong for the University of Minnesota to authorize an internship program that explicitly excludes students of certain races,” said Majority Whip Emmer. “While, after public backlash, the U of M will now allow students of all races to apply, we are deeply concerned that this happened in the first place. We look forward to the results of the Department of Education’s investigation.”

“As a University of Minnesota alumnus, I find it unacceptable that our state’s leading institution of higher education has deprived students of prestigious educational opportunities because of their skin color,” said Rep. Finstad. “It is extremely concerning that the University, which operates on taxpayer dollars, would create racial barriers to programs and resources by excluding qualified students because they don’t fit a certain demographic, which is why my colleagues and I are urging the Department of Education to take immediate action to ensure these discriminatory practices do not continue.”

“The University of Minnesota’s MSROP, which lists its top eligibility requirement for the program as being able to ‘identify as a Student of Color or Native American’ is a clear violation of the U.S. Education Department’s laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin,” said Rep. Fischbach (MN-07). “I sincerely hope the Secretary of Education takes this matter seriously and exercises its authority to stop such a requirement and ensure it does not continue in Minnesota or anywhere else in the country.”

“The University of Minnesota has become so woke they have circled back around to discrimination,” said Rep. Stauber (MN-08). “As a taxpayer-funded institution, this is unacceptable and inexcusable. That’s why I joined Rep. Finstad and the Minnesota Republican House delegation to demand Secretary Cardona look into this program and ensure all students at UMN are protected against discrimination.”

“I grew up in the Jim Crow South during the time of segregation, the KKK, and institutional discrimination, so I'm personally disgusted to see this blatant racism from the University of Minnesota," said Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development Chairman Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04). "Every American should be appalled that their taxpayer dollars support this federally-funded institution's segregationist practice that denies educational opportunities to students because of their skin color.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.