A group of students is suing Walden University for allegedly preying on black and female students.
Walden University is at the center of a class-action lawsuit over allegations that it implemented “multi-part discriminatory practices and fraudulent representation of course lengths that especially victimized Black and female students.” Walden University is a private, online school with headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is a for-profit school that offers 70 different degree programs.
The suit was filed by the National Student Legal Defense Network earlier this year and represents a handful of students who allege the school’s conduct “trapped minority students in particular into cycles of debt and despair.” On top of that, the suit claims Walden “purposefully lengthened the time students took to complete their capstones in the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program by making them wait for approval from a three-member committee.” As a result, the plaintiffs allegedly had to “re-enroll for semesters and continue paying tuition during the approval process.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the plaintiffs allege that, because the “number of capstone credits required to obtain their degrees was misrepresented, and Walden allegedly lured students in under the false promise that they could swiftly earn a graduate degree, the school overcharged students over $28.5 million.”
Because of this, the suit claims the school is guilty of operating a “multi-part discriminatory, fraudulent, deceptive, and dishonest scheme.” The plaintiffs also claim the school’s practices “violated consumer protection laws, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act” and even accuses the university of “reverse redlining by targeting minority communities with its advertising and tailoring it to appeal to women.”
When commenting on the matter, Aaron Ament, the president of the National Student Legal Defense Network, issued the following statement:
“Walden lured in students with the promise of an affordable degree, then strung them along to increase profits…As if that’s not bad enough, Walden specifically targeted Black students and women for this predatory program, masking its discrimination as a focus on diversity.”
Walden advertises itself as an educational institution that welcomes diversity. Out of 380 accredited institutions, Walden is ranked number one for “awarding doctorates to African American students.” It’s also near the top of the ranks “for awarding graduate degrees in multiple disciplines to African American students.”
So how has Walden responded to the allegations? Well, shortly after the suit was filed, a spokesperson for the university said:
“The university will continue to work to ensure that those groups of people that have been typically underrepresented in higher education know that attaining an education and expanding their access to opportunities is possible at Walden University.”