UVM offers discount rates to employers seeking access to their student body based on race and sexual identity
By Michael Bielawski
In a potential Civil Rights Act violation, the University of Vermont is apparently offering special rates in its Employment Partner Program to businesses that are either considered minority-owned or by people with different sexual preferences or identities.
The following is currently posted on the UVM Career Center webpage.
“Special Rates: Following our commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, we are proud to offer a $500 discount to nonprofits, government agencies, and woman-, LGBTQ-, POC- owned businesses. We are also happy to meet with any small VT business to discuss options that work in your budget.”
VDC reached out to the university for comment but they have not yet returned the call.
The program is designed to link employers with the student body so that they can get the recruits they need.
The policy is a potential violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. National Archives states, “This act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal. It was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.”
The policy may also be a violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) which is defined on investopedia.com as “a federal civil rights law that forbids lenders to discriminate against loan applicants for any reason other than their ability to repay. Specifically, ECOA protects consumers from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, eligibility for public assistance, or the exercise of any rights under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.”
Many potential employers may wish to utilize this program for recruits, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce there is an extreme work shortage.
“We hear every day from our member companies—of every size and industry, across nearly every state—they’re facing unprecedented challenges trying to find enough workers to fill open jobs. Right now, the latest data shows that we have 8.8 million job openings in the U.S., but only 6.3 million unemployed workers,” their report states.
State lawmakers pushing similar programs
Vermont as a state has been pushing similar policies that prioritize resources by race or other identities. According to a report by True North Reports in April of 2021, there was a bill moving through the statehouse that would prioritize land ownership in the state based on race and other forms of identity.
“H.273 aims to foster racial and social equity in land access and property ownership by creating grant programs, financial education, and other investments “targeted to Vermonters who have historically suffered from discrimination and who have not had equal access to public or private economic benefits due to race, ethnicity, sex, geography, language preference, immigrant or citizen status, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, or disability status.”
According to the bill’s page on the State Legislature’s website, it did not become law.
City of Burlington also pushes social justice in its community gardens policy
The City of Burlington has also been under scrutiny for policies that promote public resources to select groups or for people who support certain social justice views.
As reported in True North Reports in 2022, the city community gardens require participants to sign onto a policy statement that includes “Being proactive about educating myself on matters of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging” and “Being aware of my own privileged identities and how these affect others and understanding, acknowledging, exploring and challenging my conscious and unconscious biases.”
The policy remains posted today unchanged from as it was during True North’s report.
The author is a reporter for the Vermont Daily Chronicle.