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January 20, 1995 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-20

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 20, 1995 -3

Questions about
arise in courts
and on campuses
he University of Maryland began a contro-
versial program to diversify its student
population 10 years ago. The Bannecker
Scholarships, composed of funding by the state of
Maryland, were created as part of the program to
compensate for a history of discrimination in the
state and its public universities. Each year, 30
academically talented entering African American
students were granted $35,000.
Last year, the Fourth Circuit Court
twice ruled that race-based scholar-
ships were unconstitutional. A Latino
student, Daniel J. Podberesky, chal-
lenged the scholarship's minority sta-
tus requirement - particularly the
Bannecker's designation for Black stu-
dents only.
The University of Maryland is pre-
paring to petition for a hearing by the
U.S. Supreme Court and once again the
question of separate but equal has sur-
The University of Michigan has
undertaken an expansive effort toward
diversity in the past few years with a
program titled "The Michigan Man-
date." The Michigan Mandate, imple-
mented in 1987 under the leadership of
University President James J.
Duderstadt, was created for similarrea-
sons as Maryland's diversification pro-
Even earlier, the University's Of-
fice of Financial Aid had established
merit scholarships and grants in "aid
programs specifically for students from
underrepresented groups (African-
American, Hispanic-American and
Native American)," says the OFA's
publication, "A Guide to Financial Aid
for Underrepresented Minority
"We do have programs open to
people of specific races," says Lisa
Baker, University spokeswoman. She
said the University looks to attract top
scholars, including scholars who be-
long to particular minority groups. "One
of our priorities is to make the campus
more diverse ... because with diversity
comes excellence."
Yet the Fourth Circuit Court said
such an explanation did not justify the
University of Maryland's Bannecker
Scholarships - which were based on
merit but confined to African Ameri-
can students.
"There is no doubt that racial ten-
sions still exist in American society,
including the campuses of our institu-
tions of higher learning," the court said
in its initial ruling Oct. 27. "However,
these tensions are not a sufficientground
for employing a race-conscious rem-
edy at the University of Maryland."
Across the country, students and
university administrators have are tak-
ing a closer look at what the case could
mean for them.
University of Maryland counsel

students wait
for for
information in
the Office of
Financial aid.

"We do have progams open to
people of specific races"
-- Lisa Baker
University spokeswoman

Andrea Hill-Levy said the Fourth Cir-
cuit Court's decision will directly af-
fect only those institutions in its area.
However, the decision could "influ-
ence" the outcome of similar cases
involving schools outside its district.
The University of Maryland is pre-
paring a petition to have its case heard
before the U.S. Supreme Court. If the
court accepts the petition, this case
would have a bearing on schools across
the nation.
Hill-Levy explained that
Maryland's minority programs were
developed in response to an order by
the federal government in the late 1960s
to assure that the school would follow
the trend toward desegregation as de-
scribed in Title VI of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964. Previously, Maryland's
state-funded schools had been operat-
ing on a dual higher-education system.
"Why is it (the scholarship) not
open to all minorities? ... It should be
one of the tools available to the univer-
sity to ensure desegregation and elimi-
nation of past vestiges of racial dis-
crimination," Hill-Levy said.
The University of Michigan has
been decried as a racist institution by
activists such as those involved in the
Black Action Movements. But Vice
Provost for Academic Multicultural
Initiatives Lester P. Monts said the
University has been open to minority
enrollment from the start, referring to a
history of the University recently pub-
lished by University historian Nicho-
las Steneck and his wife, Margaret.
Just as the University offers finan-
cial incentives to athletes and other
gifted students, "We have to have in-
centives to attract minority stu-
dents to the University,"
Monts argued.
He ex-

plained that minority students have sev-
eral institutions to choose from, like
other students, and the amount of fi-
nancial aid offered is a determining
factor of the talent coming to the Uni-
Hill-Levy of Maryland said many
people have overlooked the factors of
"race-exclusive versus race as a fac-
tor." While a specific race was a re-
quirementforeligibility fora Bannecker
Scholarship, a central requirement was
academic merit.
She said the university's move to-
ward this requirement in 1985 would
be subject to "strict scrutiny," but de-
cided to stand by its decision.
"In all of our history, there was no
basis toward directing our programs to
other minorities," Hill-Levy said. "We
thought the scholarships could be a
legitimate part of the university's ef-
forts to diversify our institution."
Patricia Walton, Bannecker Pro-
gram coordinator and assistant director
of admissions at Maryland, said the
program has been discontinued as a
result of the October decision. Now, it
has become the Bannecker-Key Schol-
arship, open to all minority students
and with a set of slightly higher merit
requirements - a Scholastic Aptitude
Test score of 1,000 and a high school
grade point average of 3.00.
"Until (the ruling is overturned),
we're not selecting African Americans,
but all ethnicities," Walton said.
However, students who received
the Bannecker Scholarships before the
ruling will continue to receive funding
until they graduate.
In Maryland's fight for the
Bannecker Scholarships, Hill-Levy
said, many institutions of higher edu-
cation have been supportive.
University Provost Gilbert R.
Whitaker Jr. said in a statement: "At
the present time, we believe that this
decision has no effect on scholarships
administered by the University
of Michigan. We will
continue to follow
this case,

and we may file an amicus brief on
behalf of the University of Maryland
when it is appealed."
Students at the University, regard-
less of their racial or ethnic back-
grounds, differ in their opinions to-
ward such scholarships.
"Scholarships ought to be given on
the basis of need and potential," said
LSA sophomore Joshua Gottlieb. "Re-
gardless of the Constitution, it's not
fair that rich kids' fathers' corporations
pay for their educations."
LSA junior Mark Fletcher, who is
also president of the College Republi-
cans, said he disagrees with scholar-
ships for minorities - even if the pri-
mary factor is academic merit.
"You're saying they're obviously
not able to compete with other races in
general," he said.
Fletcher argued that isolating
ethnicities and races for their own
scholarships or funding "stigmatizes"
not only the social groups, but the fi-
nancial awards themselves. He added
that this need to compete among a
group may indicate that individuals
within the group may not be ready for
an experience at a particular university.
"There are many other colleges that
might be more suitable than the Uni-
versity of Michigan," Fletcher said. He
said efforts to establish diversity "cre-
ate animosities that only bolster rac-
"They're detrimental to students as
well and to a-campus that supposedly
attempts to have 'racial harmony,' as
President Duderstadt would put it,"
Fletcher said. "You're harming the
people today for things their grandfa-
thers and fathers did. The problem
doesn't seemto begetting betteron this
University staff member and alum
Jeanette Larner agrees. "We all have to
understand what happened in history,"
she said. "But there's no reason why
we should pay today for things that
have been done in the past."
Larner said publicly funded schol-
arships should be given on the bases of
merit or need. "Everyone should be
treated equally," she said.
LSA sophomore Angela Jerkatis
said, while race may be a
factor,candidates' backgrounds should
supplement the consideration of merit
"I would like to give money to
students who would like to go to school
but couldn't because they didn't have
that scholarship," she said. "Sometimes
it's important that race does play a
Robert Chen, who graduated from
the College of Engineering in Decem-
ber, agreed. "I'm not so sure things
should be based solely on race, but also
on economics," he said.
"I don't think anything should be
based on race," he added. "There's no
doubt about it that in this country, mi-
norities have certain disadvantages....
But does that justify race-based schol-

t Scholarships

"The University of
Michigan is committed
to attracting a culturally
diverse student body,
and has designed
several aid programs
specifically for students
from underrepresented groups (African-
American, Hispanic-American and Native
"The Michigan Achievement Award and the
Michigan Scholar Award are two of these
special aid programs, one for residents
and one for non-residents. Michigan
Achievement Awards, awarded to Michigan
residents only, are made on the basis of
academic ability. The Scholar Recognition
Award, developed for Michigan residents
from underrepresented groups, is a merit-
based scholarship which covers the cost of
tuition for each of four years."
- From "A Guide to Financial Aidfor
Underrepresented Minority Groups"
University of Michigan Offce of FinancialAid

Su said children of University al-
ums have an advantage since they are
given more preference, and historically
alums have been mostly white. "Until
somebody comes up with a better way
... without race being a predominant
factor, I think measures such as this,
it's the best system we have in place
right now," Su said.
"People think it's like a free ride.
But these minority students at the Uni-
versity still. have to meet the standards
like any other student," Su said.
RC senior Jessica Pfeiffer, a white
woman who grew up in a working-
class family in Detroit in similar eco-
nomic conditions as many non-white
students, said scholarships for minori-
ties are essential to creating a more
egalitarian society.
"I know that not everybody starts
with the same opportunities," she said.
"I'm white, and I didn't have to deal
with this entire history. ... I may have
a similar economic background, but it
doesn't mean they had the same oppor-
tunities that I had. I have not been
limited as much by my economic back-
ground as a student of color might have

Sociology Prof. Donald Deskins
said consideration and special atten-
tion to race and ethnicity are essential
to societal progression - whether for
employment, admissions or financial
He said society is not "mature
enough" to discontinue helping mi-
norities since they still do not have an
equal status.
Those who argue that race should
not play a role in any selection process


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