Friday, November 11, 2005

Justice Department opens battle on race-based fellowships 

The U.S. Justice Department plans to sue Southern Illinois University over three fellowship programs reserved for minority-group members or women. Among the three programs being challenged is one that is financed by the National Science Foundation and operated according to NSF guidelines, university officials say.

In a November 4 letter to the university, Bradley J. Schlozman, the acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said his agency would file a lawsuit against the Southern Illinois University system's Board of Trustees and administration by November 18, based on its finding that the system has "engaged in a pattern or practice of intentional discrimination against whites, nonpreferred minorities, and males."
This is front of today's Chronicle of Higher Education (subscriber permlink, here's a temp good for five days). The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the university is seeking a discussion and defends the practice. It also has a description of the fellowships called into question.
FELLOWSHIP: Bridge to the Doctorate
Started: 2004
Award: $30,000 stipend, plus $10,500 for education expenses
Purpose: "For underrepresented minority students to initiate graduate study in science, technology, engineering and math.''
Budget: $985,000
Number of awards since inception: 24 (19 blacks, 5 Latino, 1 Native American)

FELLOWSHIP: Proactive Recruitment and Multicultural Professionals for Tomorrow
Started: 2000
Award: Tuition waiver and $1,200 monthly stipend
Purpose: "To increase the number of minorities receiving advanced degrees in disciplines in which they are underrepresented.''
Budget: $158,000
Awards since inception: 78 (61 blacks, 14 Latinos, 1 Asian, 2 Native Americans)

FELLOWSHIP: Graduate Dean's
Started: 2000
Award: Tuition waiver, $1,000 monthly stipend
Purpose: "For women and and traditionally underrepresented students who have overcome social, cultural or economic conditions.''
Budget: $67,000
Awards since inception: 27 (16 whites, 7 blacks, 4 Latinos)
The effect of this would be sweeping, as I believe you could find such programs at most universities in America.