Morgan Stanley’s summer internship program, the 2022 Freshman Enhancement Program, open only to “Black, Hispanic, Native American, and/or LGBTQ freshman undergraduate students,” is raising some eyebrows.
The Project on Fair Representation, a nonprofit advocacy group that legally challenges racial quotas, is particularly concerned about the program, which some characterize as exclusionary. The internship is aimed at helping college sophomores gain a stronger understanding of the financial world.
For one, Morgan Stanley is a premier financial institution, the Project notes. For another, Princeton University has apparently encouraged its students to apply. Aside from Princeton University, the University of Michigan, Harvard, and Bates College have also notified students about Morgan Stanley’s internship program.
With two such prestigious American institutions promoting opportunities for minorities at the exclusion of all others, i.e. Morgan Stanley and Princeton, the Project on Fair Representation takes issue.
‘Racializing Our Country’ Further
In a letter to Morgan Stanley, the group says, “Morgan Stanley and Princeton are leading institutions in our culture. What you do matters not only because it affects the individuals involved, but also because you set an influential example for others. Pandering to activists with ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ initiatives like this internship program is actively harming and racializing our already divided country."
One of the internship program’s primary aims is to “help our clients benefit from the widest range of insights and perspectives.” On paper, this may seem commendable—but the Project on Fair Representation believes a minority-only internship program has serious disadvantages.
The letter, addressed to Eric Grossman, Morgan Stanley’s chief legal officer, and Ramona Romero, general counsel at Princeton, states that “the use of race, ethnicity, and sexual-orientation discrimination to advance these goals is blatantly illegal and immoral. It must stop immediately.”
Additionally, the group is affronted by the notion of using racial quotas to improve racial equity and social justice. “There is simply no case for ‘good’ discrimination on the basis of race,” the letter continues. “We all want to undo the lingering harms caused by past racial discrimination and violence, but as Chief Justice John Roberts has noted, using racial discrimination to undo racial discrimination doesn’t work. Rather, ‘the way to end discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.’”
The Project also says Morgan Stanley’s plans for a minority-only internship program likely violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
With regards to Princeton, an Ivy League university that accepts federal funding, the letter argues Princeton is subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, “which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race—not only in admissions and financial aid, but also with respect to academic programs.”
Discrimination in Hiring, Career Paths
Morgan Stanley is not the only corporation offering internships and/or jobs to people of color. On more than one occasion, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has stated people of color are preferred candidates in job applications. A yearlong BBC internship program posting from 2017 was open only to applicants from a non-white ethnic minority background, per The Daily Express. This was not an isolated incident, as in January 2018, the BBC openly stated that applicants for a multi-media journalist trainee position was “for people from a black, Asian or non-white ethnic minority background.”
A University of Dallas student in January 2021 was rejected from an internship opportunity from the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, a professional development firm that works closely with CitiBank, Goldman Sachs, and other major corporations because, as a rejection letter put it, “SEO Career targets Black, Hispanic and Native American undergraduates.” The student noted told The College Fix: “It’s not like I was underqualified or anything. I had the right major. I had the right GPA. I was the right year in college, but I was white so they wouldn’t help me.”
The wider trend of supposed “positive discrimination,” which is “the automatic favoring, without proper consideration of merit, of under-represented individuals from minority groups over individuals in majority groups” has taken hold not just at Morgan Stanley, but across several universities—and a growing number of banks and financial institutions.
In November, multinational investment firm State Street Global Advisors proudly announced that it was moving away from hiring any more white men for executive positions by requiring managers to obtain special permission to hire anyone from this demographic. Instead, the bank now wants most of its new hires to be women and from ethnic-minority backgrounds.
On college campuses, the phenomenon goes even further than minority-only internships. At the University of Michigan, the college unveiled a POC (people of color)-only and whites-only cafes for students, which received heavy criticism. Columbia Univesity hosts exclusively separate “multicultural graduation ceremonies” for LGBTQ, Black, Latinx, Asian and Native American students.
There is dormitory housing exclusively for students of color at UCLA, UC Berkeley, Western Washington University and Oberlin College, as well as college courses at Cornell University titled “BIPOC Rock Climbing,” where the course description detailed the class was “for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color.” City officials in Seattle have even appeared to embrace the idea, marketing a beach walk “to appreciate nature in a way that is culturally responsive to your experiences as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. Open to anyone who identifies as BIPOC,” per an advertisement tweeted from Seattle Parks.
Judging People on Merit
In the corporate world, George Santos, a Republican candidate for Congress in New York’s Third Congressional District, sees Morgan Stanley’s plans for a minority-only internship as dangerous. “It is exceedingly disturbing that we have put meritocracy aside and have embraced this entitlement mentality. We are failing this generation by allowing them to not push themselves towards excellence because they’re all relying on their fragility. Morgan Stanley should be ashamed of themselves for creating a backwards segregated environment, segregation does not only apply towards one race it is applicable towards all races and creeds.”
Santos further adds, “Once a society falls victim to this dystopian mentality of putting people in different silos and creating quotas, that is a one-way ticket to disaster. Affinity groups do more harm than good in the work environment, to see accredited institutions such as Morgan Stanley and Princeton take part in this is worrisome. I sharply oppose any person being benefited by the color of their skin or their sexual orientation.”
With actions on the topics of diversity and inclusion continuing to take place both in colleges and the workplace, it will be fascinating to see if Americans can strike a balance between the good intention of working to include all, but without the optics of looking exclusionary to others.
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