by David Shih
Originally published: April 19, 2017
Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appointed Candice Jackson as the acting assistant secretary of the Office for Civil Rights. Jackson will oversee a staff of hundreds charged with responding to thousands of civil rights complaints every year, including some from students who feel discriminated against based on race, color, national origin, sex, ability, and age.
ProPublica reported that while an undergraduate at Stanford University, Jackson, a white woman, wrote an article for a student newspaper complaining about a section of a calculus course designed for "minority" students. The math class was an example of "racial discrimination" against white people, she wrote. In another op-ed for the paper, Jackson dismissed the needs of women "banding together by gender to fight for their rights." Might Jackson's words from twenty years ago fuel the idea that her office may not fully enforce Title VI and IX protections for people of color and white women? Do they signal that she may instruct her staff to elevate the complaints of white students or faculty who believe they are victims of racial discrimination?