REU: Racist Equity for Undergraduates

“Key components of the [Lamat] Institute include intensive research instruction … and social justice discussions. In addition, a comprehensive mentoring professional development program is designed to encourage mentors and mentees to adopt an anti-racist, critical approach to mentoring relationships.”

So reads the Lamat Institute’s About page. According to its Home page, the institute’s goal over the last decade has been to “invigorate the field through training and workplaces that reflect equity-advancing values.” And what field might this be? Gender studies? Ethnic studies? Nope. The Lamat Institute, located at the University of California, Santa Cruz, focuses on computational astrophysics, astronomical data science, and social justice, according to its biography on Twitter.

The Lamat Institute is a “Research Experience for Undergraduates” (REU) site funded by our taxpayer dollars through the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF defines these programs as

research opportunities for undergraduate students … An REU Site consists of a group of ten or so undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where he / she works closely with the faculty and other researchers.

But nowhere does the NSF mention that these programs are being used illegally, nationwide, for the purposes of racial and sexual discrimination. Indeed, REU may as well stand for “Racist Equity for Undergraduates.”

The University of Chicago, for example, hosts an REU program in physics. The description of this program explicitly states the university’s intention to use federal funds in a racially and sexually discriminatory manner. As the description reads,

The University of Chicago Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program in Physics, supported by the National Science Foundation offers undergraduates (members of underrepresented minority groups (African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans) and women) the opportunity to gain research experience working in the laboratory.

(As I was finishing this article, our friend Christopher F. Rufo at the Manhattan Institute reported on this very program, and the University of Chicago backpedaled. A spokesperson for the REU program claimed that the description is an “error,” but the university has not been able to change the website.)

[Related: “Documents: Mizzou Imposes DEI Litmus Test”]

Not every institution is as explicit in its intentions to racially and sexually discriminate (many simply “encourage” minority and female applicants to apply), but these REU programs can be found across the country, and hints of their intentions are not hard to spot. The University of Washington, for example, opens the “eligibility” section of its REU program with the statement: “We highly value diversity.” Oregon State University’s eligibility section states that it is “particularly interested in applications from students from groups underrepresented.” In addition to the illegality of such practices, another question one must ask is: why?

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that any of these [REU] programs are discriminating against ethnic minorities or women, so it makes no sense to rig the admissions process in those groups’ favor,” one undergraduate student told me, who wishes to remain anonymous. “These programs are, however, openly discriminating against men, whites, Asians, and Jews. The fact that they say so on their own webpages, in direct contradiction of the non-discrimination statements that they make elsewhere, is breathtaking.”

“There are no research opportunities at my school,” the student explained, “so REU programs provide a crucial opportunity for me to gain research experience, which is essential for graduate school admissions. It is very demoralizing to know that despite all the hard work I’ve put in to maintain a 4.0 GPA and win multiple merit scholarships, I’m at a significant disadvantage simply because of certain immutable characteristics that have nothing to do with scientific research.”

“I am applying to almost 20 programs,” the student clarified, “and every single one states in some way that ‘underrepresented groups’ are favored. The discriminatory policies at REU programs as well as the even worse discriminatory policies at graduate school programs have made me seriously reconsider the wisdom of pursuing a PhD. My dream is to become a professor at a research university, but I now consider that dream nearly impossible due to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.”

He is not the first to have his dream crushed due to the influx of radical activism in STEM fields, but he will hopefully be among the last. The sooner the public wakes up to the fact that a federal government agency is providing funds to weaken science and sow social division through racial and sexual discrimination, the better off we all will be.

Image: Adobe Stock


  • Mason Goad

    Mason Goad is a research fellow at the National Association of Scholars, investigating DEI in STEM education and research. He can be contacted on Twitter (@GoadMason) or via email at

5 thoughts on “REU: Racist Equity for Undergraduates

  1. REU programs should only fund the best and the brightest. To do otherwise affects us all because we are not supporting those who show the most potential.

    It would be instructive to conduct a little test. Ask the faculty researcher one question: You have hired an REU researcher that met social justice parameters. If this person were a white/asian/jewish male with the identical qualifications, would he or she have been your top choice? Even woke faculty will admit if you hire the mediocre, you should expect to get mediocre results.

  2. The student referred to in the last four paragraphs says:

    “My dream is to become a professor at a research university, but I now consider that dream nearly impossible due to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.”

    That is a very self-defeating attitude, certainly with respect to REU. The language of the programs is obnoxious, to be sure, and I don’t doubt that there are “preferences.” But that doesn’t mean it is “nearly impossible” to get into one or several. In fact, I doubt that most REU programs could fill their slots without taking ample numbers of white and Asian males.

    I went to the website for the University of Chicago physics REU (probably a top program). Here is what I found:

    “The program is open to all and we encourage applications from those underrepresented in physics.”

    That doesn’t sound like hopeless discrimination against any group.

    I would recommend to the student to continue to follow his aspirations. By the time he is ready to get a faculty job, if he goes that far, the group discrimination that is pretty rampant in faculty hiring right now will in all likelihood be outlawed, by the Supreme Court and perhaps Congress.

    Don’t listen to misinformed, paranoid people from fringe groups who want to tell you that you have had your “dream crushed.”

    You know, what is going on among the right reminds me a lot of the paranoia about “systemic racism.” There may be an element of truth to either or both. But that is not a good reason to give up.

    1. That student will be filtered out sooner or later. There are plenty of points at which his “privilege” will be held against him if he doesn’t repeat the DEI shibboleths and his skin color and gender will always be held against him in grad school admissions, funding, mentorship, publications, and job applications. I have seen firsthand how these DEI people in academia think–they openly say how white men are “problems” and would rather hold jobs open than hire them. Better to realize now that academia is full of vicious, intolerant left-wing racists who seek to destroy people who don’t think like them.

      Also, the REUs brag about being 2/3 “underrepresented races.” So good luck to the whites and Asians fighting for the remaining 1/3 (who will also apparently be required to bleat about DEI and repeat the classic DEI falsehoods as a condition of their participation). What a welcoming environment!

      1. Well, we just made an offer to a white male for a faculty position. Our top choice. And tenure to a white male this year.

        You have a source for that 2/3 figure?

  3. And even if they’re forced to *say* that they accept anyone who applies, it’s already clear who they will accept (especially since it seems unlikely R lawmakers will care enough to hold the NSF accountable here). It’s a pure social-engineering program under the guise of merit and funded by all taxpayers.

    The Republicans who voted for the recent “Endless Frontier Act” (see here:–which codified establishing a DEI czar within NSF and a host of other DEI programs within the academic research sphere to continue this purge (see here:–should be ashamed of themselves and publicly questioned for actively supporting such race-based programs.

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