ROANOKE — Two groups that oppose affirmative action said yesterday that they have identified more than 70 programs at Virginia Tech that illegally favor racial or ethnic minorities for internships, scholarships and mentoring opportunities.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a school with more programs that were discriminatory than Virginia Tech,” said Edward Blum, a senior fellow with the Sterling, Va.-based Center for Equal Opportunity.
CEO, a public policy institute led by affirmative-action critic Linda Chavez, and Sacramento, Calif.-based American Civil Rights Institute spent a week studying Tech, using information gleaned from its Web site to aid a U.S. Department of Education investigation into the school’s affirmative -action policies.
The nine-page report sent to the department’s Office for Civil Rights targets myriad programs in the school, including a faculty mentoring program in the biology department designed for “students from diverse populations,” a five-week “ASPIRE” science course for black and Hispanic students, and the Institute for Student Development retreat that is reserved for black undergraduates.
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker criticized the report, saying it was created with information that was at least 2 years old.
“Last time I checked, Virginia Tech had more than 300,000 active [Web] pages,” Mr. Hincker said. “Because it’s posted on someone’s server, that doesn’t mean it’s university policy.”
Tech has spent the past several months submitting its policies to the Virginia Attorney General’s Office for review to ensure that they comply with state and federal law.
“We believe our programs are in very good shape, and those that need modification are in the process of being modified,” Mr. Hincker said.
The attorney general found 16 programs that needed to be dropped or changed until race-neutral policies could be adopted, according to a June 2 statement issued by Tech Provost Mark McNamee.
Department of Education spokesman Carlin Hertz would not comment on the investigation. Typically, the department will notify school officials if it determines a policy is violating the law. If Tech refuses to change the policy, the department could pull the school’s federal funding or refer the case to the Department of Justice.
“But that has never happened,” he said.
For more than a year, Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore has warned state universities about using race as a determining factor in admissions or other programs.
In March, Tech’s Board of Visitors voted to ban any special considerations in hiring, admissions and scholarships, such as “an applicant’s disability, age, veteran status, political affiliation, race, color, and national origin, ethnicity, religious belief, or gender.” That ban was lifted a month later under pressure from minority groups and Gov. Mark Warner.
Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh would not comment on the report. The attorney general “remains committed to reviewing the programs and policies at Virginia Tech and elsewhere,” Mr. Murtaugh said.
During the past several months, CEO and the American Civil Rights Institute have sent letters to numerous universities nationwide that they believe are violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which says schools cannot discriminate based on race, color or national origin.