UPDATE: Harvard backs off BIPOC-only music program

Following 'Campus Reform' reporting that led to a Title VI complaint, Harvard University distanced itself from an upcoming summer program that is exclusively BIPOC.

Professor Mark Perry filed a complaint with the Department of Education on the grounds that the program discriminates based on race.

Harvard University appears to be distancing itself from a music program open only to students of color following a Title VI complaint from Professor Mark Perry. 

The website for the program, No Label Academy, has since scrubbed any mention of the program taking place at Harvard. The site previously said the program would be held on campus. 

No Label Academy will still run August 21-31. 

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Harvard University hosting music program open to ‘all BIPOC Students’ is a Title VI violation, UMich professor says]

The site used to characterize the program as a “music business course at Harvard University,” but it now claims, “No Label is not affiliated with Harvard University, nor is No Label Academy a Harvard University program or activity.” It is unclear if the program still has a Harvard faculty adviser, as it did last month. 

Campus Reform reported last month that Harvard, in partnership with rapper IDK, had planned to offer a program “open to all BIPOC individuals.” The program would require interested students to apply and to state their race on their application. 

[RELATED: Cornell librarian slams libraries as ‘predominantly White,’ ‘complicit in racism’]

Prof. Mark Perry, who teaches at the University of Michigan-Flint, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that Harvard may have broken the law by blocking White students from the program on the basis of their race. 

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any program receiving federal taxpayer dollars from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. 

Prof. Perry told Campus Reform, ”This illustrates a systemic problem in U.S. higher education today the lack of concern at colleges and universities in regard to uniformly enforcing federal civil rights laws (Titles VI and IX) that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and skin color.”

He continued, “Universities like Harvard and hundreds of other schools routinely violate Title VI and Title IX and do so with impunity because they are rarely held accountable, because nobody ever complains except now for me and some other civil rights advocates.”

Perry says the changes to the program’s website “seem to indicate that the entire program has possibly been moved off campus at Harvard’s request, so that Harvard will not be in violation of Title VI.”

On July 11, the Harvard Crimson ran a correction to a July 1 article that stated, “A previous version of this story stated that accepted students will be housed on Harvard’s campus for the duration of the course. In fact, students will be housed near campus.”

Calling attention to the issue, Perry says, is a critical piece of addressing potential violations of civil rights law. He told Campus Reform, ”I also suspect that if Campus Reform had not reported the violation, and if I had not filed the Title VI complaints...and provided a courtesy copy to the university, that it’s very likely that the program” would have gone forward in its original form. 

Perry also provided a copy of his complaint to Harvard’s Title IX coordinator. Though Title IX and Title VI are separate, they are both part of the same body of civil rights laws that govern education.  

Campus Reform reached out to Harvard University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito