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Published:November 18th, 2005 09:11 EST
SIUC officials set to meet with U.S. Department of Justice Monday

SIUC officials set to meet with U.S. Department of Justice Monday

By Matthew Kent

CARBONDALE, Ill.--Officials at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale avoided litigation being filed by the U.S. Department of Justice this week in which the department alleges that three graduate fellowships are discriminatory, stating that instead attorneys for both sides will be meeting Monday in a teleconference call.

SIUC government relations officer, David Gross stated in an e-mail that unless the university is willing to enter into a consent decree, federal officals still threaten a complaint.

In the letter, the Department of Justice asks that SIUC: ceases any paid fellowships that are in any way restricted on the basis of race, national origin or gender; recruit or hire and employ persons for fellowship positions without regard to race, national origin, or gender; and make whole relief to those persons who have been victims of such discriminatory policies.

However, Gross said, "We have many questions regarding their inquiry and have asked for more time and a meeting to better understand their concerns."

The U.S. Justice Department alleges that the three fellowships in question, the Proactive Recruitment of Multicultural Professionals for Tomorrow, the Bridge to Doctorate and the Gradate Dean’s fellowships are all discriminatory because white males lack eligibility for all three awards.

The letter also states that investigators concluded the university "has participated in a pattern of discrimination against whites, non-preferred minorities and males."

Gross said that one of the programs in question, the Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship Program, is actually funded by the National Science Foundation with guidelines established by NSF for the purpose of "underrepresented minority students to initiate graduate study in science, technology, engineering and math."

"Although the university is willing to consider appropriate modifications to the programs, we cannot seriously consider revisions without a more detailed explanation of the alleged problems," Gross said.

Just under 8 percent of SIU's 5,500 graduate students are black or Hispanic.