A legal watchdog group filed a civil rights discrimination complaint against Missouri State University for prohibiting white male students from taking an 8-week "business boot camp," Fox News is reporting.
According to the report, the Equal Protection Project, an anti-discrimination legal organization, filed the complaint Friday alleging the university limited participation in its 8-week "Early-Stage Business Boot Camp" offered in the spring semester just to "Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color" students while excluding white males from taking part in the program.
According to the organization, the school was "engaging in racial- and gender-based discrimination through its sponsorship, promotion, and hosting of a small business training 'boot camp' that limited participation to individuals who identify as 'BIPOC' … or are female. White males, and white males alone, were excluded from eligibility."
The report said the complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights for violating the Civil Rights act of 1964 and 1972's Title IX Education Amendments.
"The OCR should investigate this program and the circumstances under which such a blatantly discriminatory program was approved, take all appropriate action to end such discriminatory practices, and impose remedial relief," the news outlet reported the complaint reading.
Funded through a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Bank Foundation, the program gave participants a stipend of $3,000 each to cover transportation, childcare, and other "business expenses" while attending the forum, the report said.
Additional funding for the program came from the Missouri Scholarship and Loan Foundation.
According to the complaint letter sent to the DOE's Kansas City, Missouri, office, "this program is for aspiring or current BIPOC and /or women business owners who have recently started or are in the idea phase."
The 10 selected participants were required to reside in southern Missouri and attend each weekly session of the program.
According to the letter, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in any federally funded programing.
Kansas City's The Heartlander news publication reported in April that the university said the program was a "one-time" event that focused on women and minority-owned businesses.
"The Early-Stage Business Boot Camp Program is designed to assist new and aspiring small business owners in establishing and growing their businesses. The Spring 2023 program was funded by the U.S. Bank Foundation and, on a one-time basis, focused on minority and/or women-owned businesses," a university spokesman wrote to the publication at the time. "On an ongoing basis, the efactory will continue to offer the Early-Stage Business Boot Camp Program at no cost to the participants, and irrespective of their race and/or sex."
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