UNC Chapel Hill hit with multiple civil rights complaints 

A sidewalk leads to the South Building on campus at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH — In January, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNCCH) was hit with multiple complaints alleging certain programs were violating parts of the U.S. Civil Rights Act such as Title IV.  

The complaints were filed by the watchdog group Do No Harm (DNH). 

DNH describes itself as a “diverse group of physicians, healthcare professionals, medical students, patients, and policymakers united by a moral mission: Protect healthcare from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology” and that they believe in “making healthcare better for all – not undermining it in pursuit of a political agenda.” 

One complaint against the Fellowship for Exploring Research in Nutrition (FERN) program was dropped after UNCCH altered the applicant criteria. 

DNH’s Senior Fellow Mark Perry filed the federal civil rights complaint against UNCCH over the FERN program limiting applicant eligibility to “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)” students, which is prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

In an interview with North State Journal, Perry said that within 24 hours of sharing a courtesy copy of his complaint with UNC’s office of general counsel, the FERN program changed its Person of Color [POC] only applicant criteria. 

“So within 24 hours, they [UNC] had scrubbed the original website and, or they scrubbed that part of it and replaced the by POC Only eligibility requirement with some new eligibility requirement that it doesn’t restrict students on the basis of race color or national origin,” Perry said.  

Once FERN changed its website, Perry said he had agreed to withdraw that complaint. 

In an email, UNC Chapel Hill Media relations responded to North State Journal’s request for comment on the FERN complaint.  

“A webpage for the Fellowship for Exploring Research in Nutrition (FERN) provided eligibility criteria which did not accurately reflect Carolina’s commitment to inclusion,” UNC’s communications department wrote. “The eligibility criteria on the webpage have been corrected. Carolina remains committed to an inclusive and equitable community for all. A diverse student body is vital to fostering academic excellence, helping to broaden understanding among people of all backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, spurring innovation and preparing engaged citizens and future leaders.” 

The FERN program was not the only area Perry found other violations at UNCCH.  

“I was on their website for a while and I found six additional programs that I alleged violate title six and one violated Title 9 and 6 that was for women of color some pharmacy program,” said Perry, adding he filed a second complaint with multiple violations alleged. 

Perry also filed a third complaint on another program related to “artists of color” that he said discriminates on the basis of race color or national origin. 

“It’s for some artists of color. That’s like a student group but it’s restricted – it’s basically no White’s allowed in our Collective,” Perry said.  

Perry has filed six additional complaints alleging UNCCH has engaged in multiple violations of Title VI, as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, according to the DNH website. 

  1. The Light on the Hill Society Scholarship Program is a single-race, Black-only scholarship that illegally excludes non-Black students in violation of Title VI. 
  1. The Joseph Cooley and Kathleen Cullins High Endowed Scholarship Fund is a single-race, Black-only scholarship that illegally excludes non-Black students in violation of Title VI. 
  1. The Julius Peppers Endowed Scholarship Fund is a single-race, Black-only scholarship that illegally excludes non-Black students in violation of Title VI.  
  1. The Well-Being Initiative for Women Faculty of Color to Promote Professional Advancement in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Research discriminates on the basis of both race and sex. 
  1. The Well-Being Initiative for Women Faculty of Color to Promote Professional Advancement in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Research discriminates on the basis of both race and sex. 

Perry said he has shared courtesy copies of the additional complaints with UNCCH’s general counsel in hopes the school will correct the issues before an official Office of Civil Rights investigation is launched. 

Last fall, North State Journal reported on records obtained by DNH identifying four public entities engaging in “radical and divisive” antiracist training. The entities included Pitts County Public Health, UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and North Carolina Principal Fellows Program. 

About A.P. Dillon 1213 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_