A Cornell University securities law professor, William Jacobson, has filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota (UMN) for allegedly discriminating against white students in one of its summer internship programs. UMN had pitched its Multicultural Summer Research Opportunities Program (MSROP) to undergraduate "students of color and Native Americans" in the hope that many of those who complete the program would someday choose to attend graduate school. The program required qualified applicants to "identify as a Student of Color or Native American" and provide "demographic information" to support that racial identification. The successful candidates would pair up with a mentor professor and earn a $6,000 stipend as they engaged in more challenging academic research. Jacobson, a self-identified conservative, got wind of the program and filed a lawsuit against the school for barring white students from applying. On behalf of his conservative nonprofit group, the Equal Protection Project (EPP), Jacobson and colleague Ameer Benno sent a letter to the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, alerting officials to the discriminatory program at UMN and asking the OCR to intervene. "Discrimination against white applicants is just as unlawful as discrimination against black or other non-white applicants," the letter stated. "There is no good form of racial discrimination." [tweet_embed]May 24, 2023[/tweet_embed] The UMN website still references a "10-week summer research program for undergraduates of color" and lists MSROP among the school's many summer research programs. However, links associated with those postings now direct users to a program entitled Pathways to Graduate School, not MSROP. All references to applicants' racial identity appear to have been scrubbed from the Pathways page. However, the rest looks remarkably similar to the screenshots of MSROP that Jacobson and Benno included in their letter. A spokesperson for the university hinted that coordinators may have already adjusted their "selection criteria" so that the program no longer discriminates against white applicants. UMN "regularly revisits the selection criteria across thousands of different grants, scholarships and other financial awards provided to our students each year," the spokesperson said on Monday, and would be "evaluating the criteria for this student support program as part of this routine process and make any appropriate updates." Jacobson's lawsuit has sparked a debate on whether affirmative action policies are discriminatory. Affirmative action policies promote diversity and provide opportunities for underrepresented groups. However, some argue that such policies discriminate against white students. Jacobson's lawsuit is not the first of its kind. In 2016, a group of Asian-American students filed a lawsuit against Harvard University, alleging that the school's affirmative action policies discriminated against them. The case is still ongoing. The debate on affirmative action policies will likely continue, with both sides presenting compelling arguments. However, it is essential to note that discrimination against any group is unlawful and unacceptable. As Jacobson stated, "There is no good form of racial discrimination." Universities and other institutions must ensure that their policies do not discriminate against any group based on race, gender, or other factors.