In Brief

White Woman Sues Getty Foundation Over Multicultural Internship Program

Detail of Rogier van der Weyden’s “Deposition” (c. 1435) (image via Wikimedia)

Rejection sure is tough, especially when you’re a white applicant vying for a spot in a museum internship program that’s explicitly open only to minority groups. So tough, in fact, that one Samantha Niemann is now suing the Getty Foundation for racial discrimination after the institution refused to accept her application to its paid Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program, launched in 1993 to “encourage greater diversity in the professions related to museums and the visual arts.”

As CBSLA first reported, Niemann claims she was “deterred from applying” in February 2015 after receiving word that only individuals of black, Asian, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander descent are eligible for the program. Niemann is of German, Irish, and Italian descent, and was thus disqualified from applying because of her race and national origin. Her lawsuit, however, reportedly argues that her 3.7 GPA at Southern Utah University makes her “well-qualified” for the position. Despite her academic success, she somehow overlooked the instructions on the Getty’s website that clearly state that students interested in applying must be “of a group underrepresented in museums and visual arts organizations.” Perhaps that clause, which according to the Getty was added a few months ago, does introduce something of a gray area, but it’s pretty clear, with just a little bit of research, that non-Hispanic whites do not qualify as “underrepresented” in this field.

Niemann’s natural reaction has been to accuse the Getty of violating her civil rights, and she’s now seeking not just punitive but also compensatory damages.

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