University of Iowa Facing Civil Rights Complaint

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

1st Add: Includes amount of federal tax funding for university in FY 1998-99.

( - A civil rights complaint against the University of Iowa has been filed with the US Department of Education after a top official at the school called white men "the root of most evil."

The complaint was filed late Thursday with the Office of Civil Rights in the department's Kansas City, Missouri office and alleged "unlawful discrimination" against white men between the ages of 25 and 55.

University of Iowa Vice-President for University Relations Ann Rhodes said April 20 that she thought the suspect in a series of alleged campus hate incidents "was going to be a white guy between 25 and 55 because they're the root of most evil," prompting the complaint, which was filed by the California-based European / American Issues Forum. The suspect in the case was a black female student at the university's College of Dentistry.

According to the complaint, EAIF wants the Education Department to investigate the "policies, practices, books, instruction to students and other influences at the University" that prompted Rhodes to "openly express such hurtful and discriminatory remarks about the value of white men."

In apologizing for the comment last week, Rhodes said her characterization of white men as the root of most evil "reinforces the kinds of stereotypes we have been working to dispel." She also called her remarks "a poor attempt at humor," and said it was "inappropriate to joke about such a sensitive issue."

US Education Department spokesperson Rodger Murphey told that the Office of Civil Rights will evaluate the complaint to determine whether it merits further action. Murphey said evaluations are usually completed within two weeks, but could take as many as five weeks to determine whether to drop the case or pursue it.

According to Murphey, federal law requires the department's Office of Civil Rights to look into and enforce laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, age, sex or disability. Also a factor in the inquiry will be whether the university receives any federal tax money to help pay for its operations.

During the most recent period for which information is available, the University of Iowa received $167.2 million in federal tax money, grants and contracts according to university spokesman Steve Parrott.

Parrott told that between July 1998 and June 1999, the most recent fiscal year for which data are available, the university received $124.1 million from the Public Health Service; $10.6 million from the US Department of Education; $8.7 million from the National Science Foundation; $8.7 million from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration; $6.2 million from the Department of Defense; and $8.9 million from an assortment of other sources.