A&M group offers scholarships for `overcoming' affirmative action


Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle


Parodying affirmative action policies, a conservative student group at Texas A&M University will offer scholarships next year to students who pen winning essays about "overcoming" affirmative action. 

The scholarships -- for $5,000, $3,500 and $1,500 -- will be awarded next year in the "Overcoming Affirmative Action Essay Contest," sponsored by the Young Conservatives at Texas A&M and the conservative Texas Review Society, a nonprofit organization that publishes the Austin Review, Texas Education Review, the Houston Review and the Examiner (at Texas A&M). 

Earlier this week, the College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Conn., announced a $250 scholarship available only to white students. That scholarship requires an essay on "why you are proud of your white heritage" and a picture to "confirm whiteness." 

Matthew Maddox, an A&M senior from Tomball who is chairman of the campus YCT organization, said the Texas scholarships are open to all students. "We certainly hope to get applicants who are not white," Maddox said. "I know for a fact that not all minorities agree with affirmative action policies." 

Applicants must submit an essay of 1,500 words or less describing "how you or a family member have overcome institutionalized discrimination and/or the stigma imposed by policies giving preference to particular racial or ethnic groups in college admissions, employment and other competitive arenas." The essays will be partially evaluated on "the applicant's narrative of how he or she has worked to overcome the adversity created by such preferences." 

Cedrick Bates, a black junior from Houston, said the scholarship will only perpetuate the image of the campus as being inhospitable to minorities. "A lot of minority students aren't going to want to come here when they see something like this that opposes affirmative action," Bates said.  Maddox said the scholarships are being funded by alumni who want to remain anonymous and hope to "counter the increased racialization of A&M's admissions policy." 

In December, A&M President Robert Gates became the only president of a major U.S. university to voluntarily decide not to use race preferences in admissions or scholarships.  Maddox said the university is nevertheless implementing race-based policies, including "graduate diversity fellowships" designed to increase the number of minority graduate students. According to a January memo, applicants will be evaluated partly on their "experiences as a minority student or as a nonminority student from a diverse environment." 

Another memo from October 2003 specifies the percentages of minorities that should be hired in various engineering departments, explaining that "the numbers are not quotas, but rather goals corresponding to our expectations." 

"They have very specific percentages they've set as targets," Maddox said. "They can rename it, but it's still a quota." 

Source: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/2411852 

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