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Volume 72, Issue 68, Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Ill-advised award meant to cause a fuss

Eva Kaminskayte
Opinion Columnist

There is a new scholarship available to students at Boston University that's causing quite a controversy. The scholarship applicants must be full-time BU undergraduate students, maintain at least a 3.2 cumulative Grade Point Average and be at least 25 percent white, The Daily Free Press, BU's independent student newspaper, reported. 

To complete the application, students must submit two essays -- one describing the applicant's ancestry and one describing "what it means to you to be a Caucasian-American today." The $250 award is sponsored by the BU College Republicans and is meant to raise awareness about racial preference in higher education.

The scholarship was introduced with this statement: "Did we do this to give a scholarship to white kids? Of course not. Did we do it to trigger a discussion on what we believe to be the morally wrong practice of basing decisions in our schools and our jobs on racial preferences rather than merit? Absolutely."

This scholarship makes a mockery of scholarships that are offered to minority students rather than promoting equal opportunities to financial aid for all students regardless of whether they are considered minorities.

Scholarships are offered particularly to minority students for many reasons. Many of these students come from families in which the parents did not have an opportunity to pursue a higher education and have a lower household income compared to families whose providers have college degrees. Scholarships lessen the financial burden for those families by helping pay for their children's education.

Universities offer incentives to minority students to boost diversity in classrooms and to help those students who would not be able to attend universities without financial help. 

By increasing the diversity of their campuses, universities allow for the open exchange of ideas between people of different backgrounds, which produces well-rounded graduates.

These scholarships may seem unfair to white students who were not eligible for financial aid even though they need just as much help paying for college, but this particular scholarship is not the right way to attract attention to the issue at hand.

"If you give out a white scholarship, it's racist, and if you give out a Hispanic scholarship, it is OK," BUCR President Joe Mroszczyk told the Free Press. "It is the main point. We are not doing this scholarship as a white-supremacy scholarship."

Many minority scholarships are sponsored by private organizations or individuals who believe their financial contributions will help a deserving student who comes from the same background obtain a degree. The scholarship offered by BUCR is not meant to help a deserving white student pursue a degree -- it's only intended to stir up controversy. 

The purpose of encouraging diversity is to ensure people from all walks of life have the opportunity to pursue a higher education and learn to work with people from different backgrounds, which will theoretically make people more accepting of each other's differences. This scholarship is only going to divide people into those who are for and those who are against affirmative action.

For interested and eligible BU students, the scholarship deadline is Thursday. Just a few days later, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases on whether school districts may use race as a factor in assigning students to public elementary and secondary schools in order to create or maintain racially integrated schools. 

If incidents like this BU scholarship are any indication, we still have a long way to go.

Kaminskayte, a public relations and political science senior, 
can be reached at

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