Texas A&M and federal agencies sued for running segregated summer program

Washington, D.C.- The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) sued Texas A&M and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) this week for operated a segregated summer science program. CIR filed its lawsuit on behalf of “Michelle Doe,” a sixteen year-old white high school student who was denied access to a science apprenticeship program run by Texas A&M and funded by NIH, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) solely because of her race.

In 1995, Michelle Doe (pseudonym), a straight “A” student at an inner-city school, inquired about Texas A&M’s summer apprenticeship program after seeing a flier posted at her high school. Texas A&M informed Doe that access to the program is restricted to selected races, and that she could not participate because her race (white) was specifically excluded. CIR’s lawsuit claims that Doe’s race-based exclusion is a flagrant violation of Title VI (which prohibits racial discrimination by entities receiving federal funds), the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and of NIH and USDA regulations, which expressly prohibit the exclusion of individuals from programs funded by the respective agencies on the basis of race.

Doe tried to apply to Texas A&M’s summer apprenticeship program only after being turned away from another Texas A&M summer science program because of her race. In 1994, Doe applied to participate in Camp Planet Earth, a summer environmental science program run by Texas A&M and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Camp Planet Earth selected Doe as a finalist, but rejected her at the final interview after seeing her race. Doe appealed the decision, and looked for a summer science program in which she could participate. She found a flier for the NIH program, and asked whether she would be eligible. This time, however, she was told that based upon her race, she should not even bother applying. Doe successfully sued the NSF and Texas A&M in the Camp Planet Earth case, and is now seeking to end race-based discrimination in the NIH funded program at Texas A&M.

Dr. Michael S. Greve Executive director for the Center for Individual Rights said “In the State of the Union Address, President Clinton stressed that ‘Building one America is our most important mission,’ yet the Clinton administration supports programs which divide Americans based on skin color. Segregation was wrong in the 1950s when children were denied access to educational opportunities based on race, and it’s wrong today.”

Michelle Doe is represented by Michael E. Rosman, General Counsel for Washington, DC based Center for Individual Rights (CIR), and Allan Parker, Esq., San Antonio, TX.