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Princeton faces federal probe after acknowledging racism
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Princeton faces federal probe after acknowledging racism

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Princeton

People walk through the Princeton University campus in Princeton, N.J., in this April 5, 2018, file photo.

PRINCETON, N.J. — The Trump administration has opened an investigation into racial bias at Princeton University, saying that the school's recent acknowledgment of racism on campus amounts to a "shocking" and "serious" admission of discrimination.

In a letter to the university on Wednesday, the U.S. Education Department said the school's acknowledgment of racism conflicts with previous assurances that Princeton complies with federal anti-discrimination laws. It said that, in an open letter issued Sept. 2, the university's president "admitted Princeton's educational program is and for decades has been racist."

The investigation is the Trump administration's latest salvo against schools and colleges that seek to address racism. Speaking in Washington on Thursday, President Donald Trump said U.S. schools and universities unfairly teach that America is a racist nation, an idea that he dismissed as "toxic propaganda."

In June, Trump blasted Princeton on Twitter over its decision to remove former President Woodrow Wilson's name from the university's public policy school because of his segregationist views.

Princeton on Thursday said it's cooperating with the investigation and looks forward to showing that its actions have been consistent with federal law, and "also with the highest ideals and aspirations of this country."

"It is unfortunate that the Department appears to believe that grappling honestly with the nation's history and the current effects of systemic racism runs afoul of existing law," the university said in a statement.

The department cited several passages in university President Christopher Eisgruber's letter detailing efforts to combat systematic racism. It raised concerns over his acknowledgment that racism persists at Princeton "as in our society," and his acknowledgment that racist assumptions from the past "remain embedded in structures" of the university.

Eisgruber's message was issued in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans whose killings by police sparked nationwide protests this summer. The letter announced new efforts to expand the diversity of Princeton's faculty and to explore an educational program for students who come from communities that are disproportionately affected by racism.

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