Students sue University of Oklahoma, say school offers financial aid based on race

The plaintiffs allege that the school’s financial aid policy is unconstitutional.

‘Defendants' use of race to allocate financial-aid resources cannot survive strict scrutiny,’ the lawsuit alleges.

A group of University of Oklahoma students initiated a class action lawsuit against the school on May 15, claiming the institution granted financial aid improperly based on students’ race. 

“[R]acial preferences continue to exist at the University of Oklahoma. Rather than determining who to admit based on their race, the University of Oklahoma determines how much financial aid it gives to students based on their race. That is unlawful,” the lawsuit, which was shared online by Fox News, states. 

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“Universities that discriminate on the basis of race when making financial-aid awards violate the same equal protection principles that apply in the admissions context and elsewhere,” it continues. 

Attorney David Thompson, representing the plaintiffs, told Fox News: “Racial discrimination in all of its forms is illegal and immoral, and we intend to vindicate that principle in this lawsuit.”

The defendants in the legal challenge are school President Joseph Harroz, Chief Enrollment Officer Jeff Blahnik, Director of Financial Aid Services Courtney Henderson, and Student Engagement Director Dorion Billups. 

The lawsuit follows the 2023 Supreme Court ruling in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) that deemed affirmative action admissions on the basis of race to be unconstitutional.

“Racial discrimination in financial aid was illegal before the Supreme Court’s decision in SFFA, and it remains illegal after the Supreme Court’s decision in SFFA,” the lawsuit states. 

From 2009 to 2022, black students were reportedly awarded more financial aid than other racial groups, according to the lawsuit. 

“Defendants’ use of race to allocate financial-aid resources cannot survive strict scrutiny. . . . And if Defendants had a cognizable interest in easing the financial burden on certain racial groups attending the University of Oklahoma, they could serve that interest by more narrowly tailored means, such as awarding need-based, but race-blind, financial aid,” the lawsuit continues. 

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The lawsuit also cites other examples of race-based exclusion at the school, including a “Welcome Black Weekend” orientation.

Campus Reform has also contacted the University of Oklahoma for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.