February 08, 2006

Southern Illinois University and U.S. Department of Justice reach accord Consent Decree to be in place for two years

The Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University (University) met today in Special Session and approved a Consent Decree with the United States Department of Justice (DoJ). The agreement, to be filed today in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (Benton), culminates months of inquiry and negotiations between the University and the DoJ, which had alleged that the University was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, natural origin or religion.

Specifically, the Department of Justice alleged that three graduate fellowship programs at SIUC, PROMPT, BRIDGE and the GRADUATE DEANS, violated equal opportunity laws because they were only open to specific minority and women groups.

Throughout the legal proceedings Southern Illinois University officials have strongly denied the allegations. “We have always felt that the fellowships in question were but a small part of an overall graduate assistance effort that provides opportunities for thousands of our students, from every imaginable culture and background, to pursue graduate degrees while working at Southern Illinois University,” SIU President Glenn Poshard commented.

More than two thousand graduate students work for the University in research or teaching capacities. Upon review of all of the University’s graduate programs the DoJ complaint alleged equal employment opportunity violations in two programs under control of the University (the Graduate Dean and Prompt fellowship programs) and a third fellowship program, Bridge to the Doctorate, run by the National Science Foundation. The three programs have 28 students enrolled.

In recommending the Consent Decree to the Board, President Poshard highlighted the University’s long held tradition of pursuing diversity. “The Board’s decision to settle this issue preserves Southern Illinois University’s fundamental right to recruit faculty and students from all backgrounds, while reaffirming that this University will exercise such rights within the parameters of all equal employment opportunity laws,” Poshard continued.

Poshard’s remarks to the Board of Trustees included the creation of campus taskforces to examine criteria used for all other graduate assistance programs. “The taskforces will take the necessary steps to assure that nothing in the criteria, procedures or process that prevents or hampers the participation of women and minorities in our graduate programs,” Poshard concluded.

Mr. Roger Tedrick, Chair of the SIU Board of Trustees, explained the Board’s rationale in making its decision. “The Board supports this effort because it assures continued participation of all students currently enrolled in these programs while simultaneously opening the doors for meaningful participation of all students in all other graduate assistance programs,” concluded Tedrick.

Ms. Tequia Hicks, the SIU Carbondale elected student representative on the Board of Trustees concurred with Tedrick’s assessment.

“The Consent Decree protects all students currently enrolled in the questioned programs. These students met high academic standards to get into these programs and are valuable assets to the University. The settlement secures their future with the University,” Hicks stated.

The Consent Decree will be in place for two years and will require the University to report every six months on various aspects of all paid fellowship positions.

CONSENT DECREE (Major Provisions)

  • Holds harmless any student in any paid fellowship position at SIU as of January 15, 2006.
  • Prohibits paid fellowship positions or recruitment or employment for any paid fellowship positions to members of any particular group or groups on the basis of race, national origin, or sex.
  • Requires the distribution and display of the Consent Decree and equal employment language to various administrators and in certain locations on campus and in electronic form.
  • Requires the discontinuation of any information that suggests that any paid fellowship positions are restricted on the basis of race, national origin or sex.
  • Requires equal employment training to all academic recruiters and employees engaged in recruiting activities on behalf of the PROMPT, BRIDGE or GRADUATE DEAN’S fellowships.
  • Requires detailed reports on fellowship activities
  • every 6 months for the life of the Consent Decree (2 years).

To view full comments from President Poshard please click on the following link:


Consent Decree