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Columbia University seeks to end whites-only clause in scholarship requirement

May 15, 2013 by

whitesonlyJim Crow may be dead in most of America — but not at Columbia University.

Almost 50 years after the Civil Rights Act ended legal discrimination, the bastion of liberalism is finally trying to change one of its scholarships, which is restricted to “whites only.”

The Ivy League school’s Lydia C. Roberts Graduate Fellowship stipulates that the funds be given only to “a person of the Caucasian race.”

The rule is so discriminatory that it likely violates the US Constitution, according to Manhattan Supreme Court papers filed Monday by the fund’s trustees in an effort to get the restrictions lifted so the money can be awarded freely.

Roberts was heir to her late husband’s medical-patent company. She left Columbia the bulk of her $509,000 estate when she died in 1920.

But the gift came with a heap of restrictions, some of them bizarre. In addition to the “whites only” rule, Roberts fellows must be from Iowa, must not study law or several other fields, and must return to Iowa for two years after graduating.

None of the rules governing the fund — which is now worth $800,000 — can be changed without a court order.

The racist grants have not been given out since 1997. The court papers said they were suspended for financial reasons.

It’s unclear if the school actually heeded the “whites only” rule during the years it distributed grants.

However, the school’s provost at the time, Grayson L. Kirk, defended the racial provision when the NAACP protested it in 1949.

“We do not feel we are justified in depriving some of our students of the benefits of restricted grants simply because they are not available to everyone,” he said.

The school did not respond to a request for comment yesterday, but it called for an end to the racial clause in court papers.

“The trust contains certain provisions that are impracticable and/or are inconsistent with Columbia’s administrative procedure,” says assistant provost Lucy Drotning in court papers.

When the first scholarships were awarded in 1920, they were at least $750, which more than covered the $180 annual tuition.

via Columbia University seeks to end whites-only clause in scholarship requirement –

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