by James A. Bacon
Mark R. Perry, a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has filed 841 complaints over the years against universities whose policies and practices discriminate against men. So far, the Office of Civil Rights has opened 28 investigations just based on more than 100 complaints he’s filed for Do No Harm, a Virginia-based organization formed to fight identity politics in medical schools.
In one of his earlier complaints, filed in 2018 against UVa’s Darden School of Business, Perry argued that the existence of eight scholarships (and an external fellowship) reserved exclusively for women violated the School’s own internal discrimination policies.
UVa argued that the scholarships were “independently selected, funded, and awarded by the UVA Darden School Foundation, and do not involve federal or state funds.” Because the female-only scholarships were privately funded, the university argued, they didn’t violate UVa’s internal anti-discrimination policy.
Perry didn’t buy it. “I thought it was a weak defense given the fact that the Darden School Foundation is physically located in the Darden School of Business and uses UVA Darden emails and UVA Darden phones, etc. … It’s probably the case that the Darden School and NOT the Darden School Foundation decides on who gets the scholarships. In that case, UVA is administering the scholarships and that would violate Title IX.” He recently re-filed the complaint, originally lodged with the university’s Title IX office, with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
In previous posts, I remarked upon the 56/44 ratio of women to men at the University of Virginia and asked why, at a university dedicated to “equity,” such an unbalanced sex ratio would prevail. The reasons are unclear. Any analysis based upon publicly available data leaves many unanswered questions. But two things are indisputable: (1) UVa provides many women’s-only scholarships, awards and programs, and (2) the administration has evinced no concern about the gender imbalance or discrimination against males.
A dozen female-only scholarships among the thousands that UVa offers is a drop in the bucket. They alone cannot account for the 56/44 gender imbalance. But they may be indicative of deeper systemic issues.
Aside from the Darden scholarships (listed at the bottom of this post), Perry filed complaints for other scholarships, programs and awards. The following descriptions are based on his words:
- On August 20, 2020, I filed a Title IX complaint with the Office for Civil Rights against UVA for its female-only Women’s Leadership Program. On September 10, 2020, the OCR opened a federal investigation of UVA, and on February 17, 2021, UVA entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement (VRA) to either discontinue the program or continue the program as a co-ed program open to all genders.
- On February 19, 2021, I filed a Title IX complaint vs. UVA for three female-only programs and awards. That complaint is still under evaluation at OCR, and UVA continues to violate Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination by operating three programs/ awards that illegally exclude non-females based on their sex and gender identity.
- On July 3, 2022, I filed a Title IX complaint vs. UVA for five female-only awards and scholarships. The OCR opened a federal civil rights investigation of UVA on December 9, 2022. That investigation is still open and ongoing.
- On September 29, 2022, I filed a Title IX complaint vs. UVA for using its resources and websites to promote the external female-only Brooke Owens Fellowship program, which explicitly excludes non-females. On November 12, 2022, the OCR opened a federal investigation of UVA, which then agreed on March 1, 2023, to stop promoting the discriminatory external, third-party fellowship.
- On February 27, 2023, I filed a Title IX complaint vs. UVA for hosting and partnering with the Perry Initiative to hold female-only programs on its campus for high school students and medical students. On March 21, 2023, the OCR opened a federal investigation and that investigation is still open and ongoing.
- On March 28, 2023, I filed a Title VI complaint vs. UVA’s School of Medicine for its Diversity Recruitment Scholarship Award, which states a preference for medical students who are Black/ African‐American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Alaskan Native. The OCR investigated and allowed UVA’s scholarship to continue after UVA agreed to make the eligibility requirements more inclusive.
- On April 26, 2023, I filed a Title VI complaint vs. UVA for a Black Male Initiative program and a Black College Women program. That complaint is still under investigation by OCR.
From what Perry can tell, there are no comparable men’s-only scholarships or programs, although his finding is not definitive. “Based on my research, there are almost NO male-only scholarships at any college or university, and I don’t even bother wasting time looking for those scholarships that usually don’t exist,” he says. “If they did exist in the past, many of them have been discontinued or converted to co-ed scholarships.”
The usual justification of women’s-only scholarships, says Perry, is the “gender-neutral pool and match” defense. “It might work something like this — the school determines every student’s need for financial aid without regard to gender. Then when they assign scholarships, they use the female-only scholarships for female students, but only if that doesn’t take away any financial aid for male students.” But that defense, he says, is offered only sparingly.
Perry’s critique of Darden’s defense — private foundations are offering the scholarships, not us — dovetails with findings of my Jefferson Council colleague Walter Smith. All “university affiliated organizations” (UAOs), which include most affiliated foundations, are required to sign UAO agreements with the university, and are required to certified annually that they are in compliance with those agreements. UAOs also must have a representative appointed by the Board of Visitors and one by the university president. These representatives are required to have “material participation” in the organization.
Here are descriptions of the Darden scholarships taken from the School’s website:
- Class of 1975 Marianne Quattrocchi Memorial Scholarship. Members of the Class of 1975 established the Class of 1975 Marianne Quattrocchi Memorial Scholarship in memory of their classmate. This scholarship was created to attract female candidates to Darden who otherwise might not attend.
- D.C. Women’s Scholarship. This fund was established in 2016 to award scholarships for female students at the Darden School from Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
- Darden Women’s Scholarship. The Darden Women’s Scholarship was established in 2015 to support scholarships for female students at the Darden School.
- Joel Dean Scholarship. Established by the Joel Dean Foundation to support a female, underrepresented minority.
- Kelso Family Scholarship. Established by David B. Kelso (MBA ’82) in 2016, this fund awards scholarships to female students at the Darden School of Business.
- Kirsti W. Goodwin Scholarship. This scholarship was established in 2016 by Kirsti W. Goodwin (MBA ’02) to award scholarships to exceptionally qualified women at the Darden School of Business.
- Nina Sandridge Powell Scholarship. Established by William and Carolyn Piotrowski in memory of Mrs. Piotrowski’s mother. The scholarship is awarded to female students who are residents of Virginia.
- Virginia M. Kincaid Scholarship. This scholarship was established in 2001 by the Virginia M. Kincaid Charitable Trust to provide assistance to a female student admitted to the University of Virginia Darden School of Business MBA program.
- Forté Foundation Fellows (External Fellowship). All women who receive a merit-based scholarship from Darden are also designated as Forte Fellows. In addition to the financial support provided by Darden, fellows gain exposure to leading companies in the Forté network. You also gain an immediate network of peers in your fellow fellows that extends beyond your business school.