Summary of Federal Laws
Non-Discrimination with Respect to Students
Non-Discrimination Notice Requirements
The regulations implementing Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, and the Age Discrimination Act all contain notice of non-discrimination requirements for private colleges and universities. In addition, Internal Revenue Service: Rev. Proc. 75-50 (1975 -2 C.B. 587) requires the following of private universities that are organized as 501(c )(3) institutions:
§ 4.02: Every school must include a statement of its racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students in all its brochures and catalogues dealing with student admissions, programs, and scholarships. A statement substantially similar to the Notice described in subsection (a) of section 4.03, infra, will be acceptable for this purpose.
Further, every school must include a reference to its racially nondiscriminatory policy in other written advertising that it uses as a means of informing prospective students of its programs. The following references will be acceptable.
Section 4.03 provides in relevant part:
NOTICE OF NONDISCRIMINATORY POLICY AS TO STUDENTS
The M school admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.
The OCR has addressed notice of non-discrimination on its web page, which contains a sample model notice that may be used to satisfy the various requirements.
In answer to the question as to whether the admissions application itself (as opposed to the catalogues and brochures) must contain the non-discrimination language, the regulations to Title IX provide at 34 CFR § 106.9 (b):
Publications. (1) Each recipient shall prominently include a statement of the policy described in paragraph(a) of this section in each announcement, bulletin, catalog, or application form which it makes available to any person of a type, described in paragraph (a) of this section, or which is otherwise used in connection with the recruitment of students or employees.
As Title IX requires a statement of non-discrimination on the basis of sex to be included on the actual application form, it would make sense to include the entire two sentence model notice from the OCR web page above on the admission form.
At the Catholic University of America, any notice of non-discrimination language must be approved by the Equal Opportunity Officer.
Collection of Data on Race/Ethnicity on Admissions Form
There is no legal requirement to have the word "optional" in front of the category "race/ethnicity". Universities that receive federal funding are required by law to collect data on race and ethnicity, and report it in the IPEDS survey. While there is no law requiring a student to report this data, there is also no specific legal requirement to include the word "optional" in front of the category.
links checked 3/31/14 CCR