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Race-Based College Scholarships?
by Daniel Sargis
02 March 2004

Republican Chairperson Ed Gillespie has suspended the Roger Williams University College Republicans' right to use the symbols of the Republican Party, after it advertised a $50 whites-only scholarship.


It’s a good thing that Al Sharpton is busy running for the Presidency or, right now, he might be on a bus with Roland Smith racing to burn down Roger Williams University. "It's on now: All blacks out!” But this time around, the Reverend Al is strangely quiet.  Maybe it’s that old thing about people living in glass houses.

In early February, the Roger Williams University chapter of the College Republicans (RWUCR) advertised a $50 whites-only scholarship.  June Speakman, their faculty adviser, described it as "a way for the college Republican groups to express their opposition and tell people they are against race-based scholarships and affirmative action."  Within a week, the $50 scholarship turned into a $250 scholarship.  RWUCR president Jason Mattera said he has received donations and pledges in the thousands for future whites-only scholarships.

Anybody hear the liberals yelping?

With Gallic valor, the Republicans issued the first whimper.  RNC Chairperson Ed Gillespie immediately severed all ties to the RWUCR and fired a missive condemning the scholarship as, ”contrary to the principles of the party I proudly chair...I am at this time suspending the Roger Williams University College Republicans’ right to use the symbols . . . of the Republican Party.”  Why do the young always have to fight the wars?

Needless to say, the knee-jerk response to the ‘whites-only” scholarship has been pedantic.  PC immersion has yielded the obvious, and members of the Student Senate are reportedly trying to abolish the Chapter. Maybe the PC police will bring their wrath to bear on more hypocritical practitioners of discrimination.  Anybody ever hear of Howard University or the Seven Sisters (sadly, now only five)?

Washington D.C.’s own Howard University boasts that it, “does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, gender, marital status, religion, handicap, age, sexual preference, political affiliation or any other basis prohibited by Federal or District of Columbia law.”  But in a clarification, its Mission Statement explains that, “Particular emphasis is placed upon providing educational opportunities for African-American men and women and for other historically disenfranchised groups.”  The facts from Howard’s own Student Profile tell an even more interesting enrollment tale: “86% African-American and less than 2% Caucasian.”

Considering that Howard receives almost $200 million a year in federal appropriations, it might be fair to ask if the university is really applying itself to correcting its historically based discrimination...or even desires to. 

A visit to almost any university website is met with a prominent link to the institution's policy on “Diversity and Inclusiveness.”  Cornell University even has a Committee on Special Educational Projects (COSEP), “with the primary goals of: 1) increasing the enrollment of African American students at Cornell; and 2) providing support services to facilitate both their adjustment to Cornell and their graduation.”

Now turning to some members of the super-elitist group formerly known as the Seven Sisters.  You know, that whole Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley College cabal. 

Again we find institutions of higher learning that benefit from millions of dollars in public subsidization that openly and proudly practice discrimination. 

Mount Holyoke bills itself as, “a highly selective, nondenominational, residential, liberal arts college for women."  Wellesley’s mission "is to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world."

Unlike race or gender preference institutions, the student members of the RWUCR have illustrated the absurdity of systemic discrimination in the academic world. They have the constructive end-goal of eliminating that discrimination.  “Mattera said the whites only scholarship was meant to make fun of, and make a point about, scholarships offered only to minorities...It's a parody...”   And what do the administrators of single-sex institutions have to say about eliminating 50% of the population from their classrooms?  Talk about pots and kettles!   

RWUCR president, Jason Mattera, makes a rational case:  “RWUCR is opposed to ...two classes of people with two different standards. University(ies) should either compile race-based scholarships for all students, or race-based scholarships should be eliminated, and scholarships should be on a meritorious basis, which is the ideal.”  Mattera told the Providence Journal that “if you want to treat someone according to character and how well they achieve academically, then skin color shouldn't really be an option.”

Mattera’s believes that, “Gillespie’s impetuous response proves that the GOP doesn’t mind [alienating] their base.”  Is Mattera wrong when he concludes that, “Sadly, the current leadership of the Republican Party is made up of a bunch of cowards who are not willing to fight for principle, a party that worships the [altar] of political expediency.”  All conservatives should look in the mirror and take a deep breath. 

Personally, I agree with Mattera’s assessment that he “did a pretty damn good job encouraging dialogue.”  Unfortunately, those who will attack him the most venomously care little for dialogue.  But they do care vociferously for preserving their cushy thrones atop the status quo.  And that status quo is an institutionalization of racial discrimination and the entitlements it creates.  Mattera’s belief that, “as conservatives, we should be confident that we will win the battle in the arena of ideas,” may be his Achilles heal.

Daniel Sargis, a freelance writer, is a principal in a private investment development company.  His website is dansargis.org
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