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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Opposes Executive Actions That Could Hinder Diversity and Anti-Racism Programs


    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The White House, on Sept. 22, issued an executive order which would ban federal employees, grantees, and contractors from participating in certain racial or gender bias trainings that highlight “divisive concepts.”

    AAMC President and CEO David Skorton, MD, and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer David Acosta, MD, issued a statement raising concern with the executive order.

    The statement notes, “The central purpose of diversity and inclusion training is, in fact, to bring the country together, not to further divide it. Only through better understanding of our conscious and unconscious biases, learning about other cultures in our pluralistic society, reaffirming our commitment to being anti-racist, and challenging long-held beliefs – that we hold ourselves and that we hold about others – will we heal the divisions now shaking our nation to its core.”

    Meanwhile, the Department of Education opened an investigation into Princeton University on Sept. 17 following a statement made by the university’s president, Christopher Eisgruber, JD, which recognizes racism as a significant problem within American higher education and establishes initiatives to combat systemic racism within the university.

    In their letter to Princeton, the Department states, “In exchange for well over $75 million in federal Title IV taxpayer funds alone, Princeton University has repeatedly represented and warranted to the U.S. Department of Education Princeton’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI provides no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

    In response, the AAMC joined the higher education community in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that raised concern with the department’s investigation into an institution’s anti-racism initiatives.

    The letter criticizes the investigation, noting, “Such an action is likely to chill the genuine efforts of hundreds of other institutions, many without the resources that Princeton has to defend itself against a federal investigation, to identify, recognize, and correct injustices. We urge the Department to end this misguided effort and not use the power of the federal government to investigate schools that are trying to build a better, more inclusive America.”