Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Minority Aid to All Comers

Colleges Open Minority Aid to All Comers - New York Times

Colleges Open Minority Aid to All Comers - New York Times: '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.

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. The two Supreme Court affirmative action decisions that are worrying the institutions involved the University of Michigan. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court upheld the use of race in admissions decisions at the law school. It found that there had been a "highly individualized, holistic review of each applicant's file" in which race could be properly considered.

In Gratz v. Bollinger, the court struck down the use of race in undergraduate admissions, finding that those applications used a scoring system that should not have awarded points based on race.

The effects of the decisions, in June 2003, were almost immediate. After the summer of 2003, Princeton closed a seven-week program for minority high school juniors. Begun in 1985, it focused on strengthening skills in economics, statistics and other areas. Princeton restarted the program, the Woodrow Wilson School Junior Summer Institute, last summer. Now it is open to all students showing an interest in public service and commitment to "cross-cultural issues."

Changes have also come at institutions like St. Louis University, which widened a scholarship program for blacks in 2004 to include all students and named it after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "

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