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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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Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

148 replies on “White Woman Sues Getty Foundation Over Multicultural Internship Program”

  1. OMG, are these people serious? If you can’t follow the directions or understand the implications of said directions, you are automatically dismissed from consideration. When I am hiring I explicitly put something in the application/submission instructions that requires some kind of thought or follow through. That way I can more easily weed out the applicants who can’t follow directions as undesirable hires.

    Move along people… nothing to see here. Except maybe a pretty blatant example of silliness.

    1. Dear Martin, perhaps you do not understand that Getty’s directions are in complete and utter violation of two separate California laws. A word of advice since you are apparently doing some hiring. Be careful what you say and write because some day you and your organization may be sued by someone or investigated by the EEOC. If that happens you will be deposed under penalty of perjury, all of your emails will be read, your documents will be seen by the adversary and your employer’s lawyers. Your attitude would not play well before a jury. If you are unlucky you will become a sacrificial lamb when the decision comes down that your employer has violated Federal and state labor or anti-discrimination laws.

  2. I guess most jobs in the industry being filled with white people just isn’t enough for her.

    1. Then the Getty needs to edit their promo video for the program because it’s full white people.

      https://youtu.be/6AVTaERw-sQ

      The Getty is stupid. These comments are stupid. And this writing that started it all is stupid.

      Peace out.

      1. Please tell me what relationship you have with the Getty and this program that qualifies you to be so vocally against it? You have no idea how someone identifies and what qualified them for their possition. I look white, there is no way around that, but I’m a first generation American of South American decent – was I not qualified for the internship I received from the Getty?

        And if her Lawyer is sighting a 3.7 gpa from a minor school as her only qualification – please. The peers that surrounded me as a MUI had much stronger qualifications than that.

        GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE OF WHITE PRIVILEGE AND STOP DEFENDING THIS MORONIC WOMAN

          1. As a middle class white-appearing Jewish male who has received SO MUCH just due to my socioeconomic position and appearance, I disagree with your comment very strongly.

            If I had not looked white, I would have had to work much harder and done far better in school than I did to get where I am today. Check & recognize your own privilege.

        1. At least she’s living up to her name. Although “troll” would apply just as well.

        2. The program works with white people. Testimony above by a former employee.

          Read more. Write less.

        3. Dear Ms. South America: I forgive you for not knowing that Southern Utah University has one of the most respected hands on art programs in the Southwestern United States. Clearly Californians are on their own in terms of defining their world, leaving out everything between California’s eastern border and New York.

          And as to Southern Utah University being a “minor school” are you aware that the man who got “Obamacare” passed by the Senate and who negotiated all of the compromise provisions with the House of Representatives, was U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who attended Southern Utah University? It’s far from a “minor school” when it produces a man who goes from total obscurity to being the second most powerful man in the United States for more than 8 years. When I say “second most powerful” it’s because NO PROPOSED LAW GETS VOTED ON BY THE SENATE UNLESS THE MAJORITY LEADER ALLOWS IT. So no, though you may not be aware of it SUU is not a “minor school”.

          You also might want to read the two California laws whose relevant text I posted above which protect everyone who comes into the State of California, including you.

          Perhaps YOU should dial back the snobbery and condescending tone of writing which you obviously learned as a result of your Getty internship.

          1. Nixon went to Whittier College and Reagan to Eureka College, but I’d still call both minor schools too.

      2. why do your attempts at communicating (if that’s the word) remind me of my 12-year-old niece?
        I wonder if you were denied access to a program for the developmentally disabled and are lashing out as a result.

      3. You absolutely can not tell from looking at a picture where all of these people come from. I see many races in the photo. I see them because I took the time to study the photo. Not give it a quick glance and make a “profound” statement. Get over yourself.

        1. The promo video is full of white people. That’s not a profound statement. Watch it as many times as you need to. Get some glasses.

      4. You’re right. The photo above is certainly not representative of the program as described in this article or the one in the L.A. Times.

  3. The reporter here didn’t read or understand the news she linked to.

    The woman was qualified in 2015 when she applied. She was rejected for her race. The Getty then changed in 2016 the race policy in official terms, that white people are excluded from consideration, what was before just an implicit discouragement or bias that not everyone knew about. The woman did nothing wrong and has a viable legal case. The reporter here is just looking for anger clicks, it seems, or just extremely incompetent. Gawker pays their writers by clicks and this one might too. I don’t know. But this is some bad reporting.

    1. No, we don’t and that’s a very limited reading of the news. Institutions change guidelines all the time. But I’m sure the reporter can respond for herself. Also, not sure why you are using this fake alias.

      1. Your “reporter” left out the date.

        “… the Getty modified the eligibility criteria for 2016.”

        That omission is not a mistake, given that the piece is just a hateful smear job intent on making someone (who’s not the race of the reporter) look entitled and stupid. It’s unethical writing and sad to see published.

          1. You’d be deleting half the comments here if you policed usernames. You are using the disqus comment network, like lots of other websites do. Not my problem.

          2. Never told you want to do and don’t care. I did care about the malicious article but I didn’t tell the hateful reporter what to do, either. It’s your website.

        1. thank you Bitch Warrior for taking the time to comment and especially for taking the time to point out my race, because the color of my skin is incredibly relevant and definitely triggered the writing of this piece (perhaps I should add here that some of my best friends are white!!!).

          what you failed to see, however, is the entire principle: that Niemann applied in 2015, received word then that applicants must be of a certain background to apply — and still decided to file a discrimination suit last week. (note that I did not mention whether or not she may have a legally viable case.) the fact is she was informed that the program was intended to diversify museums and still chose NOT to walk away from it and accept that the target applicant pool is defined as so for good reason [as I linked to at the bottom of the article], but instead decided to fight it through a process — one on which she can obviously afford to spend not just time but also money.

          thanks again for commenting, i had almost forgotten that I was Asian.

          1. You still don’t understand the law. If white people couldn’t be in the program, they wouldn’t have been. But they have been, as you can see in the program’s own promotional video.

            Yes, that you are Asian did NOT go unnoticed. I’m glad you can make friends with white people who’ll overlook your cartooning of “white privilege” and general spit.

          2. Ok, you’re out of line (again). Future comments that are attacking the writers background will be deleted. Or I’ll ban you, since we have a quota of inappropriate commenters and we’re at capacity.

          3. Fine, ban me. You and your writers can’t handle what you dish out. But don’t think the lack of critical commenting here, caused by your totalitarian and fragile-minded thought policing, means people swallow this political garbage you publish. You are the Gawker of the art world, minus the use of facts.

          4. Actually, and I am being honest here, I would like for you to ban my account from commenting here. Yes, I am serious. I get drawn into this race war click bait stuff and don’t want to do it anymore. It’s not good.

            I would appreciate it. Thank you.

          5. OK, yada yada yada – are going to ban me? My request was honest and I would like my account blocked from commenting here. Thank you.

          6. “Only a real bigot would see it this way”. I believe you’re wrong. Any half-witted Superior Court judge in Los Angeles County would be able to read the law (above) and find that the Getty Foundation had unlawfully discriminated against this one girl based on her race.

          7. But white privilege isn’t real. Its unethical to claim privilege of any race. The only privilege people are wealthy.And that covers all races.

          8. Dear Claire, California’s two anti-discrimination laws have no carve outs, whatsoever to allow “programs intended to diversity” any place of employment or training for employment. I suggest you read the 2 laws carefully, since they are clearly not in the bailiwick of artists or museum employees. There are no loopholes which allow race discrimination. The existence of “target applicant pools” can be based on poverty but not on race.

            Also in response to your inaccurate comment about affording a lawsuit, it costs this young woman absolutely nothing to file a lawsuit against Getty Foundation, because anti-employment discrimination law firms like the ones who filed this lawsuit front all of the costs of the lawsuit. They generally get all of their money back when they win the case. It’s called a “contingency case”.

            Also by the time the contingency plaintiffs lawyers who handle anti-discrimination lawsuits hit age 35 or so, they are deadly accurate at understanding the law and in picking cases they are highly likely to win.

            In this sort of lawsuit, the jury can award “special damages: which would be the stipend paid to each intern, plus “general damages” which are any amount the jury feels compensates the plaintiff for the pain the defendant institution’s wrongdoing caused her, plus “punitive damages” which are an amount intended by the judicial system to inflict financial pain on the wrongdoer-institution. Those “punitive damages” are the interesting ones, because the jury gets to examine all sorts of information about the defendant institution’s cash flow, normal expenses and assets. Typically, the plaintiff and the lawyers split the damage award 50/40, so the lawyers have great incentive not to pick weak cases.

            In convincing the jurors how much to award in punitive damages, it’s possible that prior wrongdoing by the Getty Trustees could be disclosed to the jury through questioning of witnesses. See, for example http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/03/arts/design/03gett.html?_r=0

            If these anti-discrimination plaintiffs lawyers find a way to amend their case to include a violation of the California Labor Code by the Getty Foundation, they also get to recover their attorneys fees at an hourly rate which runs around $500+ per hour in L.A. These sorts of cases consume several thousand hours if taken to trial.

            Then there’s the most painful result of patent discriminatory law breaking by an institution like Getty. The management employee heads which roll for their utter stupidity in discriminating based on race.

            I think it would be both ironic and wonderful if a whole flock of people who are qualified to work for prestigious museums, but who have been excluded because of their culture and race, would go to these anti-discrimination plaintiffs lawyers and file a raft of lawsuits against California’s museums. California is certainly a target-rich environment.

          9. Dear Claire, California’s two anti-discrimination laws have no carve outs, whatsoever to allow “programs intended to diversity” any place of employment or training for employment. I suggest you read the 2 laws carefully, since they are clearly not in the bailiwick of artists or museum employees. There are no loopholes which allow race discrimination. The existence of “target applicant pools” can be based on poverty but not on race.

            Also in response to your inaccurate comment about affording a lawsuit, it costs this young woman absolutely nothing to file a lawsuit against Getty Foundation, because anti-employment discrimination law firms like the ones who filed this lawsuit front all of the costs of the lawsuit. They generally get all of their money back when they win the case. It’s called a “contingency case”.

            Also by the time the contingency plaintiffs lawyers who handle anti-discrimination lawsuits hit age 35 or so, they are deadly accurate at understanding the law and in picking cases they are highly likely to win.

            In this sort of lawsuit, the jury can award “special damages: which would be the stipend paid to each intern, plus “general damages” which are any amount the jury feels compensates the plaintiff for the pain the defendant institution’s wrongdoing caused her, plus “punitive damages” which are an amount intended by the judicial system to inflict financial pain on the wrongdoer-institution. Those “punitive damages” are the interesting ones, because the jury gets to examine all sorts of information about the defendant institution’s cash flow, normal expenses and assets. Typically, the plaintiff and the lawyers split the damage award 50/40, so the lawyers have great incentive not to pick weak cases.

            In convincing the jurors how much to award in punitive damages, it’s possible that prior wrongdoing by the Getty Trustees could be disclosed to the jury through questioning of witnesses. See, for example http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10

            If these anti-discrimination plaintiffs lawyers find a way to amend their case to include a violation of the California Labor Code by the Getty Foundation, they also get to recover their attorneys fees at an hourly rate which runs around $500+ per hour in L.A. These sorts of cases consume several thousand hours if taken to trial.

            Then there’s the most painful result of patent discriminatory law breaking by an institution like Getty. The management employee heads which roll for their utter stupidity in discriminating based on race.

            I think it would be both ironic and wonderful if a whole flock of people who are qualified to work for prestigious museums, but who have been excluded because of their culture and race, would go to these anti-discrimination plaintiffs lawyers and file a raft of lawsuits against California’s museums. California is certainly a target-rich environment.

    2. the applicant was “qualified” according to her lawyer, not according to the museum, the applicant didn’t understand the goal of the program, or is actually working against it, which makes one wonder what her goal in applying was

      1. Right, because the lawyer is talking about the law and the museum is talking about its general prejudices – and the two are not the same.

        1. The lawyer is talking about their own poor interpretation of law. Sadly, gladly, this woman and her lawyer are not the courts.

          It’s a program set up to right a historical wrong, who’s effects are objectively still obvious.

          Pity the poor white person, who has to settle for being the dominant race at the top of almost every industry or income bracket.

          1. The promo video for the program is full of white people. The Getty fucked up. Not the girl. Save your PC sermon for the gullible.

          2. Glad you liked the video that show’s everyone but this girl and her lawyer is a moron.

          3. I guess you’re so California centric that you’ve never met a Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute, or Comanche, let alone anyone from New Mexico’s many Pueblo tribes. Try taking a drive to Arizona and New Mexico to educate yourself.

            If you don’t have time to drive to AZ/NM drive over to Santa Ynez and meet the very welcoming Chumash people who are a sovereign nation of “natives” who are doing very well thank you very much.

          4. Would you mind disclosing which American Bar Association accredited law school you attended, because your view of “the law” is in direct contradiction to both California appellate court and U.S. appellate court decisions.

      2. Dear Dan, the “goal of the program” is patently illegal in California, under the two laws pasted above, if the program ever flat out rejected people perceived to be white. Once patent race discrimination is shown, the issue of qualifications or program goals are irrelevant in a court of law. And that’s what this case is about. A lawsuit against Getty Foundation for money damages payable to the applicant because they flat-out discriminated based on race which is unqualifiedly illegal in California.

        1. Oh I thought they just didn’t hire her because she is unqualified. Aren’t you suing for that reason and by the way are you working for an interested party to the case?

          1. No I’m not. I am trying to educate people in the arts community about what California law provides.

    3. As an open call for applicants, she didn’t get chosen for the job. SO WHAT. She’s suing because she didn’t get the job out of hundreds of applicants? Give me a break.
      If I sued from every job I didn’t get, I WOULDN’T NEED ONE.
      This sounds opportunistic and lazy.
      She won’t get work in the art world ever again.

      1. Yes she’ll get work. Thats a silly comment. Whos farther out there than artists of any race.

      2. Punkyou, you need to slow down and read more carefully. She was told her application was going to be rejected because she is white. That is a clear-cut violation of 2 separate California laws which I’ve pasted above so that all of you can read them.

    1. No, that’s not how institutional racism works.

      Unless you’re one of those idiots who doesn’t understand why the n-word means different things to different people, in which case: ha.

        1. Repeating your misunderstanding does not make it so.

          Again, the test is whether you’re confused about usage of the n-word. My guess is that you are.

      1. Oppression 101:
        Oppression is about
        Hatred (predjudice, bigotry), and
        Power (dominance & control via institutions and social mores)

        Racism = racial bigotry + power
        Sexism = misogyny + power

        There is no reverse racism.
        Or reverse sexism. Because while hatred can go both ways, oppression only goes one way: down – the folks on the bottom cannot oppress the folks standing on top of them.

        1. Your definitions don’t match the legal ones, so she may have a case.

          But to address yours: the power in this situation is in fact held by the people running the program, and the prejudice is denying white applications on the basis of race. So even with your definition of racism it still potentially qualifies. That this is (probably; I don’t know who came up with and approved this policy or who owns and runs the Getty) white people who are prejudiced against other white people in this position for political reasons makes it even more interesting.

        2. So what your “definitions” seem to suggest is “I can call you anything I want but you cant do the same to me because it’s RACISM!” — do you not see the problem with that?

          No, racism does not always involve power. Sometimes it involves *presumed power* or even *power in the moment*, which sometimes has nothing whatsoever to do with things presupposed to be institutional or not.

          1. No one is “calling” anyone anything, except for a mediocre applicant for a prestigious program calling said program racist for not accepting her.

          2. My comment was not about the applicant but Abeda’s somewhat unbalanced presentation of social standards.

          3. Dear Drew, take a clue. If the Getty Foundation flat out said, in writing or orally through one of its employees or independent contractors, that the girl could not be in the program because she is white. That is a flat out violation of 2 California laws I’ve pasted above for all to read.

            Once race discrimination is proven, an applicant’s “mediocreness” as you call it is legally irrelevant and instead the jury gets to order the Getty Foundation to write a big check.

          4. That’s a great hypothetical, Internet lawyer!

            A hint for your closing arguments: the word is “mediocrity.” I wouldn’t want you to sound dumb.

          5. Oppression is always about power, and it refers to the subjugation of a *class* of people. That is not my interpretation or opinion, that’s definition. Class-based hatred can go both ways, but only hatred of classes below you are backed by oppression. Two of the globally accepted terms for recognized oppression are racism and sexism. Everyone lives in these contexts, so white & male privilege are automatic, they are not choices.

            But while having the privilege is not a choice, how we see ourselves in the dominant paradigm is learned and taught. And anyone can question what they’ve been taught or the rationality of what they feel, anyone can question their own choices, words, behaviors.

            But most simply dont, because we are defensive by nature: most people can’t get past the sense of being accused and blamed long enough to find out what the real nature of ‘privilege’ is.

            Unquestioned racist and sexist behaviors do not have to be conscious to perpetuate oppression and privilege: ignorant or even well-intentioned racist and sexist thought, /behavior/traditions, combined with tolerance of the relentless violence required to keep both women and blackfolk in their place, is how good people perpetuate bad things.

            Ok that was way too much to say to someone who is here to win. I usually refuse to engage more than twice in situations like this.

            Change only happens when the need to understand is greater than the need to win. I’m not being condescending, but I can’t meet you where you are because I only know how to talk to folks like me, folks who want to keep changing and working for change.

  4. If she was a poor rural woman from Appalachia, first graduate in her family, daughter of a care taker in a nursing home and laid off coal miner – she would NOT qualify for “diversity”.

    If she was a daughter of a Chinese Silicon Valley physician, married to the owner of FB, or a 3/4 African graduate of Sidwell Friends Academy in DC and Harvard, daughter to Lawyers who went to Princeton and Columbia – she would qualify.

    The art world is the MOST privileged and upper crust sector in the economy – even if some of its practitioners are playing at slumming it in Bushwick, and sport Bernie t shirts. And museums and galleries exist mainly to enhance the social prestige of millionaires.
    Gimme a break!

    I wonder how many non-European directors have run the Getty Foundation?

    1. How many Americans have run the Louvre? Honestly, can you not see the absurdity of your statement?

      1. His statement is far from absurd. Non-European means a whole panoply of people from India, China, Southeast Asia, the Muslim countries, Africa and the indigenous people of Mexico and Central America for example and Inuits and First People from Canada plus Native Americans. All are non-European and based on what is written in this discussion apparently they are all pretty much shut out of white collar museum jobs.

        1. The OP railed on about misguided senses of diversity, and here you are saying that diversity should be vital to it all.

          The two of you really need to get your stories straight before continuing your outrage.

          1. It’s not outrage. It’s straight forward California law absolutely prohibiting race discrimination which most of the people who post here do not understand.

            A positive outcome from the litigation against Getty Foundation would be Getty and other museums reacting in terror about being sued more than once and actually hiring many of the intern-alumni from this program, instead of the white museum employees who are so often described here.

    2. The conclusions in your first two paragraphs are spot on.

      As to the comments and conclusions in your third paragraph, I believe that if the elitist art world you describe is slapped with enough anti-discrimination lawsuits, costing museums substantial money in their own attorneys fees let alone damages paid to plaintiffs, it’s likely that in each scenario there will be a museum management head or two which will roll as the fall-guys for the discrimination lawsuit loss. Once that happens a few times people will fear for their jobs and probably stop discriminating against men as well as against the “multicultural” people who Getty and the commenters on this article say are under represented in museum related employment.

      1. Are you an MRA warrior too as well as a racist? Clearly, you are not elite enough ever to have been to exclusive art world events (don’t own a dinner jacket? or not invited? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt there, noblesse oblige and all), but if you had, you wpuld have noticed that most museum leadership is cisgendered white men. In a couple of generations the gender part of this might change through natural attrition, American men don’t matriculate at college as much as women (which I’d guess you’d blame on women somehow but prove me wrong), and those men that do tend not to major in the humanities, art history in particular. However, the whiteness of museums and academia will be a problem unless programs like the MUI continue.

  5. If she’s LDS, as is likely, given her college, she’s underrepresented in museums and visual arts.

    1. Finally, an intelligent person who sees that multi-cultural does not mean skin color.

  6. “Multicultural” means “not white” and that has been the internship requirement all along. The design was to encourage those underrepresented, and that does NOT include white women. Yes, the Getty had to get more blunt about what that means fairly recently because they were getting applicants that shouldn’t be applying, including someone who decided to try to sue them. That doesn’t make the reporter negligent or incompetent, just honest about something some white people cannot handle. And a 3.7 GPA should have given the applicant the ability to understand the word “multicultural” but she got so used to her whiteness getting her foot in anywhere she wanted that she’s shocked this time it didn’t. Never fear, mediocre white women get the vast majority of internships and other opportunities so she isn’t going to be hurting.

    1. “Multicultural” does not mean “not white”.

      adjective

      …of, relating to, or constituting several cultural or ethnic groups within a society.”multicultural education”

      The internship program has included plenty of white people – as its own promo video will show you – so don’t pretend you know anything about its history or design You’re just making shit up, even what words mean, as a platform for vain condescension. Sorry, find stupider people to pass these ideas of yours onto.

      1. So how many cultural or ethnic groups did the applicant with the 3.7 G.P.A, who failed to read the requirements, consist of???

        1. I don’t know; I’d need to see her application. She didn’t fail to read the requirements. You failed to read a legitimate news source that states she was rejected before the “no whites” rule was included in the official application. She was verbally dissuaded, what in common parlance is called “discrimination.” This “journalist” withheld that important information from you. The Getty failed to make their requirements, even if they are legal, clear for applicants. Now they are going to court. And none of this I care about one bit, other than regrettable race war provocations this author and publication throw out to insult and galvanize people. I am partly to blame, because I stirred up a big fuss, driving traffic here like mad. But I was avoiding work as aggressively as possible. Take care.

        2. Perhaps start with having lived in a rural culture dominated by ultra-religious Mormons.

    2. Dear Aaminah: I understand that when you are a student of art, art history, art conservation and museum operations, so no one is going to educate you about what California law provides. Please take a look at the two California laws I pasted above, which are an absolute bar against any sort of racial discrimination against anyone. I suggest you print them out and save them because at some point YOU are going to be discriminated against on some basis, because you are a woman, a mother or a person without an Anglo name and you will be happy to have those laws protecting you too.

      And Aaminah, here’s how anti-discrimination laws work in court. If race sets a first level bar from entering any sort of program or job, that is the end of the discussion. The judge and jury never get to the discussion of the applicant’s GPA because it is irrelevant once racial discrimination has been proven.

  7. Think she’ll get enough “go away” money to pay her lawyer AND have something for herself?

    1. This is a contingency case. The split of the money the museum will end up paying will be: (1) all of the costs of the lawsuit (court filing fees, court reporters, copying documents, etc.) paid by the plaintiff’s lawyer being reimbursed, (2) 40% of the museums payment of settlement money going to the lawyers and (3) 60% of the museum’s payment going to the young woman.

  8. I was a Discussion Leader for the MUI, and later a Hub Leader. I’ve supervised more than a dozen Getty interns and mentored dozens more. I’ve even hired and supervised “white” interns with complex backgrounds that clearly qualified under its diversity metrics. There is little work in my career that I am more proud to have been a part of.

    The Multicultural Undergraduate Internship Program is not perfect in its distinctions of diversity – that’s why its leadership has always had to make dynamic and 100% real decisions to encourage and create opportunity where it’s needed most.

    It is the most powerful tool in Southern California to advance persons of colour, who face incredible barriers in finding a home in the mostly white organizations that dominate the cultural sphere in this region. It is an incubator that creates networks of support between young people and arts professionals that is a permanent feature of my career, and the career of hundreds upon hundreds of other program participants.

    The young woman who is suing over her failure to recognize that this program is intended to
    serve people who do not have her privileges needs to step off, now. That she believes she is qualified to participate in the program becauseof her GPA is a gross misunderstanding of the needs and priorities of POC students, and only serves to reinforce the kinds of grotesque
    metrics that the dominant culture uses to oppress all of us, and the idea of GPA as a criteria for admission is an attempt to poison the values of the MUI and also the POC and allies that it serves.

    1. The criteria you set forth is entirely unlawful in California. I highly doubt she and her attorneys (from a well known employment discrimination litigation firm) will “step off”.

  9. I say good for her.She has the grades and the supreme court doesn’t really uphold such scholarships.

  10. Is anyone actually surprised that a white girl who tries to get something her privilege makes inaccessible is suing?

    MUI program gotta stand strong. I’d hate to see what cooptation would mean here: the assault on Women’s Studies gave us Gender Studies and the tyranny of identity politics. Stop the madness.

    1. Dear Adeba, sorry to burst your philosophical bubble, but the California Legislature and California courts are in charge. There are 2 very blunt California laws (pasted above) which say no discrimination or distinction can be made based on race. That, apparently, is what the Getty Foundation did.

      Seeing the potential for more lawsuits, they apparently changed their writren policy. However, if they continue to discriminate based on race in their practices, they will be right back into court with another plaintiff or two.

      A truly fabulous side-effect of this lawsuit would be all museums cowering in fear because their management and white collar employees are mostly if not all white, and the museums either changing their hiring practices and giving jobs to alumni of this very internship program. A less desirable though effective result would be museums getting hit with a whole raft of discrimination lawsuits filed on behalf of the very interns for whom this multi-cultural program was designed.

      Sometimes the path to justice is not where you expect to find it.

  11. This is ridiculous. First of all, there are qualifications–you have to live in LA and be a minority. If you don’t have both, you can’t apply. It has always been that way.
    And this is necessary because just last year, the Mellon Foundation released a study that only 3 % of museum jobs in education, curatorial and conservation are held by minorities. While the majority of cleaning and security in museums are Latino and black. That is why this internship is necessary, in order to provide equity (different that equality). Finally, I’ve reviewed tons of Getty MUI applicants–minorities with incredible resumes and qualifications. 3.7 GPA isn’t that impressive in comparison.

    1. Exactly… even if she was a minority, if she didn’t reside or attend college in Los Angeles County (not Utah!) she would be disqualified. Besides, she has no idea what the applicant pool looked like… internships like these get hundreds of qualified applicants; GPA and race weren’t the only factors– maybe her essays sucked… maybe her recommendation letters weren’t compelling…maybe other students had an aptitude or some sort of previous experience that would make them a better fit!

      1. Believe me, there were! There were applicants from Ivy League schools (but resided in LA), applicants that overcame seemingly overwhelming odds, and had incredible life and/or academic experiences. They were incredibly impressive and it is an extremely competitive process. I would often joke that I would never have made it past the first round.
        But as you mentioned, the personal essay was one of the biggest factors in the candidates we accepted because they had to be well written and address various things required, as were letters of recommendation, school transcripts (we would give preference to students that might have lower GPAs but had very challenging coursework), etc. (Full disclosure: I was on the MUI selection committee and am currently reviewing applicants now!).

      2. Interesting issue the “tied to LA” requirement. There is a U.S. Supreme Court case decided way before you were born, called the Okie Case, Edwards v. People of State of California, 314 U.S. 160 (1941). The Supreme Court said in essence that the State of California could not discriminate against people coming in from out of state. In the decades since that decision, the non-discrimination right-to-travel principles expressed in the Okie Case opinions have been applied to organizations which want to keep their Federal tax exempt status, which the Getty Foundation currently enjoys.

        1. What are you talking about? No one is “prohibiting the bringing of a non-resident “indigent person” into the state” as the law you are referencing. This has nothing to do with it. I appreciate that you are trying to dismiss everyone’s comments by threatening legal action and losing our jobs, but there is no need. I hope you feel better about yourself and your intelligence. Don’t demean mine.

          1. Valvarez, the Okie Case established the “right to travel” across state lines and it has been used since it was written to invalidate all sorts of programs which are limited to the residents of one state. Remember that the State of California subsidizes Getty’s operations by holding it exempt from paying state income tax on its annual income, which was $658 Million gross in 2014.

            And dear, I’m not threatening you with legal action. That’s already happened with the plaintiff and her lawyers. As I said in my comment to you below you need to be very careful about what you say and write if you are trying to achieve an objective of YOUR employer (not Getty) to violate any applicable discrimination law. Cover your behind. Don’t be so forthcomig on discussion pages like this. Don’t set yourself up to be the sacrificial lamb when YOUR employer has a legal problem.

          1. No there’s no intent by me to “close down” any programs. I’m not a plaintiff or lawyer in the lawsuit. I merely point out that programs can exist for years and years with illegal criteria, be it race discrimination or violation of the “right to travel” established by the Supreme Court so long ago.

            So I ask you, wouldn’t it be more gracious and honorable for the subject J. Paul Getty Trust (its real name) to comply with the blunt wording of California law and stop discriminating against young people based upon their race?

            Wouldn’t it be more gracious and honorable for them to stop the gamesmanship of allowing students who attend Ivy League schools thousands of miles away, while excluding other candidates on the pretext that they do not live in California?

            The reality is that a large number of college students register to vote where their universities are located. They sign a voter registration card under penalty of perjury saying that they are a legal resident in Massachusetts (Harvard), Rhode Island (Brown), New Jersey (Princeton), etc. So as a matter of law a large number of the chosen few are not California residents either.

            There’s no guarantee those misrepresentations of legal residency by other interns won’t be exposed in this lawsuit. It would be so much easier for Getty to simply make the internship subsidies and its program open to everyone, in terms of being allowed to apply, regardless of race and regardless of where they are a legal resident. Its not like Getty can’t afford it. The J. Paul Getty Trust’s gross income in 2014 was in excess of $600 Million, tax free.

    2. Dear Valvarez: I suggest you read the two California laws pasted above concerning discrimination. The is no carve out for art institutions. There is no provision says they are N/A to white people.

      Obviously I cannot make any comment about any of the resumes you’ve reviewed. However it is important for you to understand the the ironclad rule of law “no race discrimination” controls over the objectives you articulate. If you do not understand and intellectually accept California’s laws requiring absolute non-discrimination, some day you may find yourself losing your job because you’ve made a critical error in judgment…ignoring law which is crystal clear.

  12. Dear @disqus_b3Y45Ww5kV:disqus

    Thankfully, many others have already chimed in against you, but I would like to add my view:

    First, I find your arguments comical. You’ve taken all this time to champion this girl’s claim (legitimate or not) because you take umbrage at the fact that she may have been “rejected solely on the basis of being white.” Yet, your first instinct is to take a shot at @clairevoon:disqus on the sole basis of being Asian. Hello pot, meet kettle.

    Second, is your view of diversity so narrow as to look at a video and count the “whites” vs. “non-whites?” As those before me have said, being multicultural is more than just skin color, e.g. @marshall_astor:disqus’s “white” South African. Again, YOU’RE making more assumptions based on others’ appearance.

    Third, you probably don’t identify publicly as a Trump supporter because your self-righteous persona as Bitch (Social Justice) Warrior would prevent you from admitting that he dares to say aloud the ugly things you think inside your head. (Or maybe you do and you’re more self-aware than I credit you for). But seeing as you’ve spent the greater part of today (at least 19 hours, judging by the comments) refreshing this page, spewing vitriol at any who dare disagree with you, I’ll end with this time-tested gem from the mouth of one bully to another:

    Sad!

    1. So I guess you would consider the California Legislature and California Supreme Court Justices bullies too, because they say, flat out, that there can be no racial discrimination in any business, educational or otherwise public activity in California. Perhaps you should educate yourself by reading California’s two anti-discrimination laws which I’ve pasted above.

      1. No, quite the opposite, actually. As I said above, I am not talking about the legitimacy or lack thereof of the girl’s case. I have my own opinions, but they are beside the point. My point is that if you are going to slam the author (or the Getty) for making decisions on what you see as “the sole basis of” appearance, your own arguments should be more nuanced (citing anti-discrimination laws, maybe) than making the exact same judgments that you are condemning (calling out the author’s race, the appearances of those in the video, or just resorting to name-calling because people disagree with you).

        Perhaps you, too, should read a little more closely.

  13. White tears strike again; predictable, typical, yet the saltiness contributes ever so delightfully to my Margarita.

    Signed,

    Former Getty Intern Who Saw And Met Plenty Interesting White Women, Summer ’05

  14. I’m guessing this has been mentioned, but there’s also a residency requirement that the article fails to mention. I don’t know where the plaintiff lives but it could also be a disqualifying factor (I can’t imagine why someone who lives in LA where there are many colleges of all different sorts from UCs to Claremont to Cal States to CCs would go to a regional college in Utah). I supervised several MUIs, and the guidelines have always been written fairly broadly, at least at my institution. The “including, but not limited to” clause has been there since at least the mid-aughts when I started hiring MUIs, it was mainly up to the institution to decide how that was interpreted. In addition, a person with a 3.7 GPA from southern Utah state would not necessarily be “well qualified.” She would be competing against students with comparable GPAs from Ivys and top LACs, not to mention Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, etc… If there’s anything to quibble about as a side issue, it would perhaps be to suggest that we need a similar program for economic, and the related educational, diversity. At my institution, Getty MUIs were working alongside (very) white interns who generally went to similar elite colleges.

    1. None of the major publications who have reported on this have mentioned the residency requirement and I thought the same thing. I also did a little digging and the only work history she has listed is with a pizza place. Not to say that it’s not hard work and it makes her less intelligent or competitive, but I know former Smithsonian interns applying for the Getty MUI. People are treating it like it’s a scholarship when it’s an internship. Experience in the field and caliber of school are HUGE factors.

      1. Well Katherine, your getting information about the application of the plaintiff and posting your comment here has probably landed you on the list of people who will be forced to give a deposition in this lawsuit.

        And by the way, for future reference, the outright barring of white applicants when this woman applied is the only inquiry the court needs to make because it was an absolute bar to participation when she applied. The subjective criteria you mention never gets discussed at all when a program bars participants because of their race.

        I suggest that you too read, learn and understand the absolute nature of California’s anti-discrimination laws which I have pasted above.

        1. Well Cynical Observer, the extent of digging I did is her Google Plus profile which is public information, so I will not be forced to do anything. Since you continue to say “this woman applied” and “when she applied” I’m guessing you’re unable to read that she NEVER ACTUALLY APPLIED. She was discouraged when it was communicated to her that the internship’s purpose is to provide opportunities to minorities in a field riddled with inequity. Her demographic (white women) is the most heavily represented within museum professionals and the internship calls for applicants from UNDERrepresented groups.

          The other criteria matters bc it just goes to show a continued pattern of feeling entitled to things that she simply doesn’t qualify for and blaming it on race rather than her own mediocrity or her place of residence.

          I suggest you take a look at Hyperallergic’s follow-up post as well as the L.A. Times column detailing exactly what the program is, the examples of white applicants who have participated in the Getty MUI (proving that there is no “outright barring of white applicants”), and then maybe you’ll understand the frivolity of this suit that I’m sure the California Superior Court will see right through.

      2. Exactly. My institution had MUIs from Pomona, Scripps, Pitzer, Vassar, and Princeton among other of their ilk.

    2. Clearly you’re California centric. If you are from Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico or Utah and you want a hand-on art education Southern Utah University has a far better program than any of the universities in the other states, except Arizona State’s art program.

      1. If you read carefully, you would realize I wrote that no one from LA, a requirement for the MUI, would likely choose S. Utah when there are so many similar, and many better, options in LA & CA for her. And as a CA resident the UCs, or at least the CSUs, would likely be a cheaper option too. I was California-centric because the Getty MUI is LA specific.

        1. First, Southern Utah University has a beautiful campus in a beautiful college town. Its Art Department is fantastically well equipped. I doubt you or many other the others who slam SUU have ben there.

          As to the “residency requirement” your fellow commenters say the program is full of students from the Ivy League universities which are not in California. I am betting that these people registered to vote in the place where their university is located, signing the voter registration document under penalty of perjury as the election laws require, saying they are residents of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, etc.

          The “residency requirement” is apparently flaunted for some while it is apparently used against others.

          If discovery in this lawsuit really gets rolling at some point the question of whether interns actually accepted into Getty’s program have misrepresented their California residency to Getty in comparison with their out-of-state voter registrations.

          1. I actually don’t understand what you mean here. Are you implying, for example, that a Latina student from Boyle Heights, who returns there summers, but going to Harvard invalidated her eligibility for the MUI by registering in MA so she could vote for Donald Trump? You have a very narrow interpretation of law and must be disappointed by that a lot. The GRI has $5 billion + under management, they have lawyers from Sidley looking at empolyment compliance, plus their own in house folks who came from firms like O’Melveny which has a huge presence in LA. The words of the law aren’t the law, just think about all the arguments over the comma in the second amendment. I’ll take your word for it that SUU is a beautiful campus. The school itself is difficult to find information about, but I did see that it would cost a student from California about $18,000 tuition, while a CSU (Long Beach) also known for the arts and ranked in US News about 50% higher, would cost her about $8,000.

  15. I can always tell when the author of an article is legally clueless. The Getty Foundation operates in California. It operates many non-profit businesses including 2 museums, a store and multiple restaurants including one which has the most fantastic panoramic view of Los Angeles from its dining terrace. The Getty Foundation is subject to all California laws concerning employment: minimum wage, overtime, mandatory employer payment to workers compensation insurance, just to name a few. The state’s labor related agencies have made it clear that all laws protecting employees apply to “training programs”. The interns in the Getty Foundation program are paid in excess of $4,200 for the time they spend in the program.

    The law is very clear that if a non-profit corporation, tax exempt trust or non-religious charity has employees or trainees or interns California’s laws apply to them UNLESS they are religious institutions which the Getty Foundation is not.

    So take a look at what California’s laws actually provide:

    California Civil Code Section 51: “All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” [This is the Unruh Civil Rights Act.]

    California Government Code Section 12940. “It is an unlawful employment practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification, or, except where based upon applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California:

    (a) For an employer, because of the race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person, to refuse to hire or employ the person or to refuse to select the person for a training program leading to employment, or to bar or to discharge the person from employment or from a training program leading to employment, or to discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.”

    As a matter of state policy, California considers all forms of discrimination abhorrent. For example, many years ago the majority of the state’s voters passed a law making admissions to all state funded colleges and universities race-blind.

    The Getty Foundation foolishly created this problem by breaking California laws which have been in existence for decades. Things are only going to get worse as discovery commences in the lawsuit, where every Getty document involving the program, every email of the Getty people involved, and every application received by the program (with names redacted) will have to be turned over to the plaintiff’s lawyer. And then people involved in the program, like Marshall Astor who comments below, will be forced to give depositions where among other things the plaintiff’s lawyer is allowed to ask questions about the person’s entire employment history, not just work at Getty.

    The case is likely to be tried in one of Los Angeles Superior Court’s Downtown/Mid-Wilshire courthouses where the jury pools are notorious for rejecting any sort of racial discrimination no matter what the pretext, and even more important notorious for making huge general damage awards and large but legally-defensible punitive damage awards….not that loss of money will bother the Getty Foundation.

    However worse for Getty Foundation, a jury verdict finding them guilty of a pattern and practice of racial discrimination will be sent to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service whose regulations forbid tax exempt status for a non-religious organization which has policies or common practices which discriminate against people in Federal list of protected categories such as race, age, sex, religion, etc.

  16. For those who are curious what the law at issue in this matter actually says, here is the text:

    California Government Code Section 12940 “”It is an unlawful employment practice, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification, or, except where based upon applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California:

    (a) For an employer, because of the race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person, to refuse to hire or employ the person or to refuse to select the person for a training program leading to employment, or to bar or to discharge the person from employment or from a training program leading to employment, or to discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.”

    It should be noted that both the California courts have ruled that “training programs” i.e. paid internships are covered by the code section above.

    And then there’s the Unruh Civil Rights Act:

    California Civil Code Section 51 “All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”

    When you’re charging admission, running a gift shop. operating restaurants and renting space to others you are running a business and you are subject to all relevant California laws, from the obligation to obtain workers compensation insurance for employees, to compling with fire safety codes, to comply with zoning codes, to complying with the County Health Department’s instructions concerning how your facility’s kitchen is maintained.

    Getty Foundation is a business and an employer whether they like it or not and California’s flat out ban on race discrimination applies to them whether their management likes it or not.

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