(Associated Press) The Trump administration has opened an investigation into racial bias at Princeton University, saying that the school’s recent acknowledgment of racism on campus amounts to a “shocking” and “serious” admission of discrimination.
In a letter to the university on Wednesday, the U.S. Education Department said the school’s acknowledgment of racism conflicts with previous assurances that Princeton complies with federal anti-discrimination laws. It said that, in an open letter issued Sept. 2, the university’s president “admitted Princeton’s educational program is and for decades has been racist.”
The department cited the letter detailing efforts to combat systemic racism from university President Christopher Eisgruber, in which he acknowledged that racism persists at Princeton “as in our society.” He added that racist assumptions from the past “remain embedded in structures” of the university.
The Trump administration has increasingly sought to intervene with elite universities and their policies around race. The Justice Department announced in August that a two-year investigation at Yale University revealed illegal discrimination against Asian American and white applicants. The department is supporting a lawsuit making similar claims of bias at Harvard University.
Trump has separately ordered an end to anti-racism training sessions in federal agencies, prompting some federally funded university research labs to suspend diversity programs.
Princeton, which was founded in 1746, is now one of the wealthiest universities in the U.S., with an endowment valued at more than $26 billion.
In its letter to Princeton, the Education Department suggested that the school may not have been eligible for more than $75 million in federal funding that it received since 2013, when Eisgruber became president.
That funding was dependent on Princeton’s compliance with nondiscrimination laws, the letter said, and the agency will now consider measures to “recover funds” or impose fines.
The letter demands a wide range of records related Princeton’s policies around race, saying they must be provided within 21 days: “The serious, even shocking nature of Princeton’s admissions compel the Department to move with all appropriate speed.”