Discrimination at SIU????

by Marianne Richmond on November 18, 2005

The Chicago
reported that the Justice Department has accused SIU (Southern
Illinois University) violating the Federal Civil Rights laws (Title VII) by
discriminating against whites, men and others in their graduate fellowship
programs. The programs cited were:

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)

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) SOURCE: Southern Illinois University

Well, yes to qualify for
these programs one must be a minority, or traditionally underrepresented but
don’t almost all fellowship or scholarship programs at every university have
requirements that by definition exclude someone? When I applied for a graduate
program at Washington University George Warren Brown School of Social Work in
2002 I was given a packet of information that included a long list of
scholarship programs.

My recollection is that most of them had specific targets
that included everything from academic performance, math majors entering social
work, those currently employed in the non-profit sector, non-traditional
students (i.e. older than faculty) to "traditional" minorities and the
underrepresented. Didn’t the GI bill require military service and by applying the
standards that the Justice department is apparently apply to SIU, thereby
discriminate against those unable to serve in the military.

I found it interesting that Small Town Veteran writes, "I myself dropped out of the University of Illinois after two
years due to financial problems, at the same time as hundreds of
Chicago blacks were receiving a free ride just for being black, and
enlisted in the Air Force hoping I’d still be around in 4 years to use
my GI Bill benefits." 

Again, aren’t those GI Bill benefits limited to those who served in the military? Certainly those serving in the military deserve the GI Bill benefits but the benefits do exclude those who were not able to serve in the military but may have wanted to.

As The
Color Blind Society
notes, it is hard to write, "SIU puts whites and men at
a disadvantage" with a straight face. I presume that these three fellowships are not the only fellowships or scholarships being offered by SIU. It is reported that minorities make up 8% of the student body at SIU (92% of the population are not minorities!?!) which I believe would indicate that despite the three fellowship programs that the "playing field" is far from level and that it would be hard to support that "discrimination" is preventing whites and men from attending SIU.


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