A lawsuit was filed by a professor at the University of Texas at Austin against Texas A&M University for alleged discriminatory practices within its faculty fellowship program.
According to Professor Richard Lowery, who is white and male, the new version of the program discriminates against white and Asian male candidates, The Texas Tribune reported.
Lowery filed the federal class-action lawsuit on Saturday and named Texas A&M University System and its board of regents; Annie McGowan, Texas A&M’s vice president and associate provost for diversity; and N.K. Anand, Texas A&M’s vice president for faculty affairs in the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Lowery asserts that the Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship Faculty Fellows Program, or ACES, a new fellowship program introduced this summer within Texas A&M’s faculty hiring program, infringes upon Title VI and Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act as well as the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
The new ACES Plus Program focuses on “mid-career and senior tenure-track hires from underrepresented minority groups, that contribute to moving the structural composition of our faculty towards parity with that of the State of Texas,” according to the university’s announcement. This is in contrast to the traditional ACES program, which focuses on hiring recently graduated doctoral students who want to enter academia.
The professor is being represented by America First Legal, which is a legal group created by former President Donald Trump’s policy adviser, Stephen Miller, as well as former Texas solicitor general Jonathan Mitchell, who was one of the architects of Texas’ six-week abortion ban, per The Texas Tribune.
When Texas A&M announced the fellowship, they said that the university had identified underrepresented groups as African Americans, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians.
However, the lawsuit argues, “Texas A&M’s proclaimed goal of establishing a faculty whose racial composition attains ‘parity with that of the state of Texas’ seeks to achieve racial balancing, which is flatly illegal under Title VI and the binding precedent of the Supreme Court.”
The suit goes on to accuse the university of setting aside faculty positions for the aforementioned “underrepresented” groups. That claim was substantiated by an August email, referenced in the article, sent by another professor to the recruiting committee where he questioned the policy’s implications.
The head of the recruiting committee for the department of finance, Shane A. Johnson, said, “The underrepresented line would potentially be a third position, so yes reserved, but not one of our ‘regular’ positions.”
Texas A&M system spokesperson Laylan Copelin responded to the lawsuit, calling the legal filing an “unusual job application when Mr. Lowery says in the lawsuit he is ‘able and ready’ to apply for a faculty appointment at Texas A&M. But our lawyers will review the lawsuit, confer with Texas A&M and take appropriate action as warranted.”
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