Iowa State University nameplate

Inside Iowa State
Gold bar
March 17, 2003

Minority intern program to be opened to all

by John McCarroll
Iowa State will open a summer internship program next year to all applicants in response to an inquiry from two civil rights groups.

In a letter March 7 to the American Civil Rights Institute and the Center for Equal Opportunity, Paul Tanaka, university counsel, said the Summer Research Internship Program in the College of Agriculture no longer will be limited to minority students. However, since the application and decision process already is under way for this summer, the change will not take effect until 2004.

Iowa State is one of many colleges and universities the civil rights organizations have contacted about programs that are designed exclusively for racial minorities. In their Feb. 12 letter to Iowa State, the two groups said such programs violate federal law, which prohibits any institution that receives federal funding from discriminating based on "race, color, or national origin."

The decision to revise the internship program was made after determining that similar program benefits could be achieved without taking the legal risks, Tanaka said. He emphasized that the decision was made based upon the program's specific characteristics.

"The internship program will be open to all applicants, but it will continue to emphasize participation by minority students in the agricultural disciplines," he added.

Established in 1994, the summer internship program has sought to generate interest in agriculture among minority populations. Since then, 123 high school and undergraduate students have participated in the program.

"We are committed to continuing to attract students from many different backgrounds to our agricultural programs," said Catherine Woteki, dean of the College of Agriculture. "It's important that we reach out to minority populations and encourage them to be involved in agriculture."

Tanaka also advised the two organizations that following the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (expected this summer) on two admissions cases at the University of Michigan, Iowa State will review student programs that are intended to promote diversity. He also indicated that a diverse educational environment remains a compelling interest of the university.

... Becoming the Best
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
Copyright © 1995-2003, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.