Columbia University seeks to change ‘white only’ requirement for fellowship

Columbia University seeks to change ‘white only’ requirement for fellowship

NABJ scholarship winners
NABJ scholarship winners

“Desegregation may finally be coming to Columbia University.” That bit of misleading hyperbole from the joint pen of Daily News writers Dareh Gregorian And Joe Kemp kicks off a triumphal article noting:

The Ivy League school is asking a judge to change some requirements of the Lydia C. Roberts graduate and traveling fellowships — which limit recipients to people born in Iowa who are ‘of the Caucasian race.’

Lucy Drotning, the university’s associate provost, filed an affidavit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week to support a prior action made by the fund’s administrator, JPMorgan Chase Bank, claiming the racist provisions set in 1920 are grossly outdated.

‘Circumstances have so changed from the time when the Trust was established’ that complying with the restrictions are ‘impossible,’ the filing says.

‘Columbia University is now prohibited by law and University policy from discriminating on the basis of race.’

What does Columbia have against people born in Iowa? Oh, wait…

The school hasn’t awarded the fellowships, the article notes, since 1997, when it paid out $22,000. “It was not immediately clear why a fellowship hadn’t been granted since,” the writers add.

Let’s make a logical leap and assume it is because “the racist provisions” in the bequest “were grossly outdated” and so Columbia and/or JPMorgan Chase Bank decided it would rather give out nothing than enforce the terms of the endowment.

But the provost notes that the university’s hands are tied anyway by a legal prohibition against discriminating on the basis of race. What effect that will have on the National Association of Black Journalists, which doles out a combined $30,000 in scholarship grants to deserving students pursuing careers in journalism, remains to be seen. To be fair, the requirements spelled out at the NABJ website don’t mention being black as a prerequisite. The fact that all ten 2012 winners, whose photos are provided, are people of color was probably just a coincidence.

The NABJ scholarships aren’t limited to Columbia but, rather, “are open to any foreign or American born students, currently attending an accredited four-year college/university in the U.S. or those who are candidates for graduate school.” Ditto for the Ohio Newspapers Foundation Minority Scholarship, which also requires a minimum GPA of 2.5. Oh, and there’s one more requirement: “Applicant must be African American, Hispanic, Asian American or American Indian.” The Edward S. Roth Manufacturing Engineering Scholarship is likewise limited to minority students. So much for the prohibition against discriminating on the basis of race.

All told, there are over 100 scholarships earmarked for “African Americans” and other “diverse” groups. Why the double standard? Perhaps the Daily News will let us know in a follow-up piece.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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