Several New York universities are hosting a summer accounting program for “underrepresented high school students” that doesn’t allow white students to apply, which may run afoul of anti-discrimination laws.
Campus Reform’s Ben Zeisloft (who also writes for The Daily Wire) reported that the “Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession” program, which is sponsored by the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Moynihan Scholarship Fund, aims to introduce 250 “promising underrepresented high school students” to accounting. The program is hosted by nine New York institutes of higher education: Ithaca College, Medgar Evers College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Siena College, St. John’s University, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oswego, the University at Buffalo, and Westchester Community College.
The program includes “virtual sessions about forensic accounting, interviewing skills, public speaking, networking, and an ‘accounting profession overview’ featuring a panel discussion with experts in the profession,” Zeisloft reported.
The online application for the program does not include an option for white students to apply, including forms for only Hispanic, Black, Asian, and Native American students.
Campus reform reached out to SUNY Oswego and heard back from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Furlong, who told the outlet that “the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants sets the policy to provide the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP) program exclusively to high school students of color.”
“SUNY Oswego participates in supporting the program and sees this as a beneficial service to the profession, but we strongly believe that all disadvantaged students would benefit from the COAP program,” Furlong added. “While we do not participate in recruiting the student participants in COAP or in the setting of policy for student membership, SUNY Oswego would prefer a more inclusive perspective regarding membership in COAP and the NYSSCPA policy.”
That inclusive perspective, Furlong added, would “align with SUNY Oswego’s ethos that is rooted in diversity of thought and people, equitable practices and policies, and inclusive experiences.”
Furlong told the outlet that the issue “merits much future discussion for the purposes of having SUNY Oswego reassess our involvement and reconsider our sponsorship.”
Civil rights attorney Hans Bader said the program, hosted by public institutions that receive federal funding, could violate the Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Right Act. Courts have found that scholarships provided only to non-white students are illegal and unconstitutional. While this is not a scholarship, the fact that it is hosted by institutes of higher education could bring the same issues.
“If the New York program were challenged, I would expect that the New York regional office would find it illegal under Title VI, unless there is meddling by political appointees in Washington to prevent such a ruling from being issued,” Bader said. “A complete bar against whites is not valid under a ‘diversity’ rationale, although considering race as one of many factors might well be.”
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