Should the Whites-Only Scholarship at a Top University Be Changed?

columbiaColumbia University is petitioning to change one of their graduate school fellowships that is currently whites-only. The Lydia C. Roberts graduate fellowship stipulates that the recipient must be Caucasian and must be from Iowa. The scholarship was established in 1920, but hasn't been awarded since 1997. The Ivy League school is currently asking the courts to allow a change of the scholarship's whites-only requirement, presumably so they can continue awarding the scholarship, this time with a clear conscience.

There are, however, many exclusionary, race-based, gender-based, religion-based, and hometown-based scholarships out there. Many are intended to focus on and help students who are generally underrepresented in high educational systems, and grant funding and aid to individuals in order to diversify the student body.

In this case, Columbia wants to remove a restriction they think is inappropriate. A quick look at Columbia's extensive lists of fellowships shows that a lot of once discriminative scholarships have been amended to include a broader audience.

For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation was founded to help black, Hispanic, and Native American students develop leadership skills in health policy. However, since its founding, it's been changed to include all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, who are interested in the subject matter.

It's startling to learn that a whites-only scholarship still exists -- it's about time that this Lydia C. Roberts fellowship is changed. High time.

The fellowship hasn't been handed out in 16 years, but hopefully the court will allow the university to make the desired changes, which would presumably inspire them to start distributing it once again.

Wonder if they'll keep the Iowan requirement.

Do you think the scholarship should be changed?


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Clean... CleanMommyMode

But there are several scholarships that are for blacks only ...but somehow thats not racist ?? or the oones for red heads only ??  I say keep it.. clearly whoever started it wanted it that way as did whoever started the ginger and blacks only ....

jstth... jstthegrlnxtdor

Why is it ok for schools and such to make certain scholarships for Blacks or Native Americans only, but not Whites?!  I feel this is hypocritical!  No, I do not think they should change it!

miche... micheledo

I am mixed on this one. If other scholarships are not required to change, why should this one? But I also am curious why this is whites only? Maybe someone who was white and fro mIowa struggled to come up with the money for college and was discourage by the few scholarships available to white people. (Relatively speaking. I would say I could not apply to 2/3 of scholarships because I was white). Maybe they wanted to make something available. And maybe they were racist and that was the point of the scholarship. But how do you go about regulating motive?? You really cannot.

Serab... Serabelle

Any state funded scholarship should be without race or gender basis. Private scholarship should have no such rule. It sounds like this is a state funded scholarship, therefore they should change it, along with any others that stipulate any sort of race, white, black, hispanic, asian, ext. All state funded/ school funded scholarships should go to the best candidate, and race should have no bearing. Now if this was set up as a private institution, then they shouldn't change it, just like the NCAA gets to give out money to black students, so can a private fund chose white students only.

nonmember avatar kaerae

Merit and income should be the only factors considered in any scholarship.

nonmember avatar kaerae

@Serabelle - NAACP, not NCAA.

fleur... fleurdelys3110

It should absolutely not be removed

Choco... Chocodoxies

If they are not going to recognize the exclusionary status of the "blacks only", "hispanic's only", "redheads only", "women only" scholarships, then no, it should not be repealed. However, I don't think any of those are right. For the record, I am a female redhead. 

nonmember avatar Raynn

My husband and I were actually discussing this the other day, thinking about how hard it will be to help our kids (one girl, two boys) pay for college when the time comes. While all of our children are intelligent and good students, we feel that the boys will have to work much harder to find scholarships than our daughter. This is due to the fact that many awards are for specific groups, be they races, genders, random physical attributes, etc. I actually said, "when's the last time you heard of a scholarship for an average white male?" I'm actually glad to hear there are still some out there! Not because I am racist or sexist, but because my sons will need help paying for college too.

Nelli... NellieAthome

This scholarship should absolutely not be changed. Who are you, Ms Mannering, or anyone from the university that you feel you have a right to change someone else's bequest just because you might not like what they wanted.

Either Columbia uses the money as Ms Roberts specifies or they can not use it at all. It was Ms Roberts money and she had every right to put whatever restrictions she wanted on how it was used and NO ONE has a right to change her decisions.

I also find it hard to believe there are no whites in Iowa interested in studying in the fields Ms Roberts specified but if not then tough, the scholarship does not get awarded.

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