Some civil rights experts say that Google’s Ph.D. fellowship is “illegal.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday that attorneys are challenging the prestigious fellowship, which offers nearly $100,000 to students pursuing a doctorate in computer studies. The attorneys say the fellowship requires racial quotas that are unconstitutional.
"If a university chooses to nominate more than two students, then in order to increase opportunities for students who are underrepresented in the field of computing the third and fourth nominees must self-identify as a woman, Black / African descent, Hispanic / Latino / Latinx, Indigenous, and/or a person with a disability.," the Google page describing the fellowship reads.
Adam Mortara, a trial lawyer advocating a ban on affirmative action admission practices, says the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits the use of race-based criteria.
"It is illegal for Google to enter into contracts based on race under the Civil Rights Act of 1866," he told the Free Beacon. "And it is illegal for universities receiving federal funds to nominate students based on race under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act."
Edward Blum, the founder of Students for Fair Admissions, agreed and said the program “pits students against one another.”
"The Google Fellowship program is a blatantly unlawful and immoral quota plan that pits students against one another by skin color and ethnic heritage," he said, according to the Free Beacon. "Our nation’s enduring civil rights laws were passed to specifically forbid this type of racial discrimination."
Dan Morenoff, the executive director of the American Civil Rights Project, said that Google is using money to convince “elite” universities to violate Title VI.
"Google is using its pocket-book to incentivize America’s elite universities to violate Title VI," he said, according to the Free Beacon. "It’s using its financial support to directly counter Congress’s policy."
For its part, Google says the fellowship doesn’t break the law.
"Like many companies, we actively encourage a broad range of individuals to apply to our PhD Fellowship program in order to attract the widest and most representative pool of applicants possible—this follows all relevant laws and is extremely common to do," a Google spokesperson said, according to the Free Beacon. "Selection for the fellowships...is not based on demographics in any way. Fellows receive unrestricted funding for their studies, and if they are interested in working at Google, they are welcome to apply for jobs and go through the same hiring process as any other person."
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