Should we ban athletic scholarships next?
Colleges Open Minority Aid to All Comers
By JONATHAN D. GLATER
Published: March 14, 2006
Facing threats of litigation and pressure from Washington, colleges and universities nationwide are opening to white students hundreds of thousands of dollars in fellowships, scholarships and other programs previously created for minorities.
Southern Illinois University reached a consent decree last month with the Justice Department to allow nonminorities and men access to graduate fellowships originally created for minorities and women.
In January, the State University of New York made white students eligible for $6.8 million of aid in two scholarship programs also previously available just for minorities. Pepperdine University is negotiating with the Education Department over its use of race as a criterion in its programs.
"They're all trying to minimize their legal exposure," Susan Sturm, a law professor at Columbia University, said about colleges and universities. "The question is how are they doing that, and are they doing that in a way that's going to shut down any effort or any successful effort to diversify the student body?"
The institutions are reacting to two 2003 Supreme Court cases on using race in admissions at the University of Michigan. Although the cases did not ban using race in admissions to higher education, they did leave the state of the law unclear, and with the changing composition of the court, some university and college officials fear legal challenges.
The affected areas include programs for high schools and graduate fellowships.
It is far too early to determine the effects of the changes on the presence of minorities in higher education and how far the pool of money for scholarships and similar programs will stretch.
Firm data on how many institutions have modified their policies is elusive because colleges and institutions are not eager to trumpet the changes. At least a handful are seeking to put more money into the programs as they expand the possible pool of applicants.
Some white students are qualifying for the aid. Last year, in response to a legal threat from the Education Department, Washington University in St. Louis modified the standards for an undergraduate scholarship that had been open just to minorities and was named for the first African-American dean at the university. This year, the first since the change, 12 of the 42 first-year recipients are white.
Officials at conservative groups that are pushing for the changes see the shift as a sign of success in eliminating race as a factor in decision making in higher education.
Advocates of focused scholarships programs like Theodore M. Shaw, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., challenge the notion that programs for minority students hurt whites. "How is it that they conclude that the great evil in this country is discrimination against white people?" Mr. Shaw asked. "Can I put that question any more pointedly? I struggle to find the words to do it because it's so stunning."
Why don't they admit what this is: a plan to lower the number of minorities in college.
Is there a problem with whites going to college that we're unaware of?
Do you know why these programs exist?
Because these colleges actively excluded minorities from their student bodies and limited their participation in student life. This isn't a feel good program, but deals with real issues of bias and discrimination, against real people. You could count the number of schools which had black students in any numbers before 1970.
The fact is that whites like to pretend that white skin privledge didn't help their families thrive in America. I'm all for helping poor whites, but my feeling is that this is a way to placate middle class whites by playing on the myth of ther unqualified black getting in to school where they can't.
posted by Steve @ 12:51:00 AM