The Right Side of White in Higher Education

The Boston University College Republicans group has recently announced that they intend to offer a two-hundred and fifty dollar ($250) scholarship to white student applicants.  Considering that it costs more than forty-four thousand dollars ($44,000) to attend BU for one year, the students clearly don’t intend to assist white students through college:  they want to make a point about privilege, division, inequity, racism, and how each of these is inherent in race-based scholarships.  First, I want to say that these students fill me with pride, awe, and hope for a future full of dialogue (ooooh, maybe even compromise or something akin to fairness?  Alas, that may be too much to hope for) rather than the meek surrender to “political correctness” that currently cripples open communication about how best to ensure that everyone in this country is treated fairly without consideration of their race, religion, gender, or class.

I typed that last part thinking that I believed it, but you know what?  I don’t.  I’m not sure that such a world is possible; though Martin Luther King, Jr. sure hoped that men, women, and children would be judged based not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, that seems very unlikely as long as the race-based favor of programs such as college scholarships continues.  How can equality be established if one race is privileged over another?  And doesn’t anything that suggests a Black, Asian, or Hispanic student deserves more assistance in attending college than a white person smack of racism? 

Colleges and universities have a finite number of “slots” available for students; not every qualified student can possibly be accepted because there are finite resources (from professors to housing to just plain classroom space and desks available).  Does checking that little box “Caucasian” on a college application mean that person may lose one of the limited spots in an incoming class?  Actually, it does indeed mean just that in many cases.  Does that spot get filled by a Black, Asian, or Hispanic student who has the same test scores, high school grades, community service record, and general preparedness for college?  No, not usually (probably not ever).  Remember, these are student body “slots” and plenty of minorities fill them without benefit of these race-based scholarships but on their own merit.  What happened to equality and fairness and equal opportunity?  I do not intend to suggest that anyone from any background is not “smart enough” for college, that’s ludicrous, but I do speak to the fact (and it is a fact) that colleges and universities feel internal and external pressure to diversify, and that one of the ways this occurs is to set up a separate (but certainly not equal) application process and admittance policy. 

And that’s where things become complicated for many people:  this country, though we have this myth of an American Dream and tell ourselves any number of lies (that we are a classless society or that “anyone” can be president), does not provide an equal education to everyone, so not everyone is prepared for college, not everyone can compete on a level playing field.  So the field is slanted, skewed, bent a bit here and there to compensate for lower income areas, second language barriers, and just plain racial difference.  And that means, ultimately, that a college education is (perhaps should be) available to almost anyone, yet because of the class- and race-based inadequacies in K-12 education in this country many ill- or under-prepared students apply for these race-based scholarships, which are, after all, designed for them to apply for.  These scholarships are competitive, but only within the stack of applications for that scholarship, not within the overall college applicant pool.  Therefore, some of these students already have a disadvantage in their ability to compete academically with their fellow students. 

Herein, I think, is yet another problem associated with these scholarships:  once someone is admitted to a college or university, that institution wants to keep them, see them succeed.   Sure, here they are, they made it college, but because they are not educationally ready for college level work . . . well, you tell me how that sentence should end . . . do they do poorly in college?  Or does the college compensate for this by lowering its standards, inflating grades, and teaching “down”?  My experience suggests that both of these are outcomes, and the latter eats away at me morally, ethically, and intellectually.  Lowering standards, inflating grades, and teaching “down” ultimately robs the well-prepared student of any color of a solid education, of the education they deserve and are paying good money for.

Am I opposed to race-based scholarships?  Absolutely not.  What I oppose is the separate set of expectations and requirements that these currently entail.   I believe that any student, from any background (race, religion, gender, etc.) should have an opportunity to attend college, and I think that there should be more grants available (such as the Pell Grant–not as it is now, but in its former incarnation) to help these students.  I do not and will never support a scholarship program that is not about scholarship but is instead and solely about the color of one’s skin, including a “white scholarship” such as the one offered tongue in cheek by the BU College Republicans. 

The BU students don’t intend to start a wave of “white scholarships” across the country, of course, and I think that they have done admirably what they did intend:  they have us thinking and talking about this issue because it really affects us all, whether we have children or not, whether our children (or we) go to college or not.  Racisim is a real problem in this country.  The unacceptably low standards in higher education are a problem in this country; it’s not a coincidence or a fluke that a college degree doesn’t mean what it used to.  Put these things together, and the future of this country truly hangs in the balance.


More links on the BU students’ “white scholarship” and the fall-out; it’s interesting to note that Republican leaders in Massachusetts are the loudest and most condemning of the students . . .

From CNN:

From the Daily Free Press:…

From the Boston Globe:…

Former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie’s negative response is discussed in this Mettera piece:

The photo is of BU’s Marsh Plaza, it and general information about BU are available at:

15 thoughts on “The Right Side of White in Higher Education

  1. Hei Fuzz.

    SO very interesting. I checked all the links and had another read in each place over there! It must be your system over there that lifts some n disposes others not because of ability to learn/study, but the ability to pay the massive cost of the studying.

    In Finland all the education at all levels is more or less ‘free’ aka no tuition fees and the students are given a certain amount of money to be able to continue studying – the amount is not great but one can get by just about with the tightest economy budget…
    Books at senior high school levels onwards cost as do the living costs for sure so a lot university students do combine the studing with some part-time work.

    Very good blog, as always, Fuzz. Do take care n do keep well.
    =)))HuGGI Rii xx.

  2. You are on a roll today Fuzzy. I have read up on this subject too and think college scholarships should be based on the “need” AND “want” regardless of race. I think this study is right but believe it won’t change anything because too many white people feel they would be considered racist to stand up and say this is not right. I also note in your blog that there is not one mention of the NAACP and all of the scholarships devoted solely to black people. I don’t feel the colleges want to lower the standards but are forced to work in a “politicially correct” atmosphere, which might work on paper but does not in real life. If a person can’t bring the grades and determination to the table, college shouldn’t even be a consideration, anywhere, regardless of race.

  3. Hi Fuzzy….great to hear from you again!

    Another one on the where to start category! I will try to keep this short because opening too big a bag of worms may be unhealthy for my own reputation!

    You would think being a white 40-something male, I would have the world at my feet. Unfortunately, I am apparently well left of the “good ol’ boy” network so I find myself in a scratch and claw battle for every thing I can achieve. I am struggling to make my way in a government career which values “diversity”. The statement “Indian Preference applies” with many of the applications I send out. I am reluctant to even mark the box in the affirmative action section, because on that page under U.S. law, I have everything to lose and nothing to gain by volunteering information there.

    The most hurt I have ever felt was when I was teaching in a reservation community in Oregon and one of their gyms had to be shut down due to storm damage. My oldest son, who is a great basketball player came home when he found that his basketball team no longer had a gym to play, in yet many of his friends where on “Indian teams” that had rights to use gyms that were owned by the school district I worked for and paid taxes too.

    He couldn’t play basketball that year because he was not Indian!

    There have been injustices in American history, but will I or my boys be afforded the same rights in a society dominated by African-American, Mexican-American or Asian-Americans?

  4. Talking about anything to do with race is not very good for me. I am extremely opinionated here. First let me holler this from the roof top!!!!

    WHITE is a race!

    White is a race just like any other. But because we are viewed as priviledged for whatever reason we are the race that loose! I laughed my socks off when I read this blog! Caucasin Scholorship! Heck, I will even give money towards it. Most worthy cause indeed! The only sad thing is, it isn’t funny. If you are white there aren’t hundreds of grants and scholoships available you. However, if you are black, hispanic, mexican, a black athelete, or have wicked good grades you can be propelled directly into universities free charge. (comment about athelete and good grades is meant to be an insult about the universities wanting the select people possible for their schools which I think is unfair. but that is another blog for you BBB.)

    Not every white person is priviledged indeed many cannot afford to go to college but instead of just whining about until the government or some race group sets up yet more funding, whites will pick themselves up by their boot straps, get into loads of debt and go to college regardless. Without handouts, because there aren’t any.

    Race…race..race…sick to death of it. Martin Luther King was nuts to think we all could be judged by the same regardless of the color of ones skin. Whites are judged everyday, every second of every hour by anyone who is not white.

    Lowering standards, inflating grades…well that would go without saying wouldin’t it BBB. When people are getting into college on race alone. For $44,000 a year, I would except ivy league standard and only the best of the best attending as to not compromise the the quality of education.

    College is expensive and some people can afford it more easily then others. But to set up scholorships based on race instead of need and having the grades to match is racist. There no way around that.

    Why shouldn’t grants and scholorships be set up for just white people? And why aren’t there any now?

    Personally, I think the white race should stand up and demand the same benefits that other races get. Treat all equal? I think not! Only if your not white.

  5. Oh and Greg, your son couldn’t play bastekball that year because he wasn’t indian, makes be sick! Absolutely uncalled for. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. Heads would roll! Just sick I tell yeah. Just confirms what I wrote above! Sick!

  6. That’s so interesting, Riihele, about how higher education is funded in Finland, and from what you’ve said in your blogs, it seems that a fine education is offered there! I’m not sure how that would work here in the U. S. or if it even would, but it’s such an intriguing possibility. Huggs to you!

    Bravo, Scarlett, that’s just what I wanted to say about these students and my sense of admiration for them; they have put themselves in a situation that allows them to be called racist, and I think that’s very brave indeed. And I think they’re right; just because someone is white and points to inequity, it does not necessarily follow that they are being racist. In this case, I believe they are pointing to a racist practice that hurts everyone, the minorities who get these scholarships as much as the people who don’t and pay for a substandard education.

    Gregg, you are indeed between a rock and a hard place. As a white ma, you are historically privileged, whatever your actual socio-economic standing or that of any of your ancestors; it’s your skin (and gender) that make you privileged. I honestly don’t see a damn bit of difference between that classification and any other racial classification. I think it’s absurd to say that some white people in history have been privileged and have made bad choices, done horrendous things, therefore all white people for all of time must pay for it and feel guilty and give up their own culture and heritage to pay it all back. It’s just a means of making supportable an unsupportable position, one we wouldn’t let our kids get away with! (you did it to me, so I’m going to do it back to you . . . except in the adult racially motivated world, we add, whether or not you or your family or anyone historically or genetically related to you had a thing to do with it; you’ll all be persecuted just the same)

  7. BBB, RLF, BFF . . . sorry for the new comment post, but I was getting dizzy with the scrolling and jumping that happens when you write too long in the comments section.

    To your points . . . Bravo! Applause! Though I didn’t say so quite as bluntly or candidly, I absolutely agree with you about this being racism, plain and simple. I’m not quite so certain about having white scholarships for a couple of reasons: one, doing so would actually be more devisive than just doing away with the whole process (though this is not going to happen, so maybe white scholarships are going to be the only way to level the playing field back out? But whites will have to fall a good long way, socially and economically, before the then-majority would reach down to help us back up. And yes, I know what I just said, and I do think that’s how bad things will get at this rate); two, should white scholarships be offered, there’s a good chance at this point in time, that they would be more heavily funded, so again, inequity would prevail, and it would still not do a damn thing about the standard of education, just add a bunch of under and ill prepared white students to the mix, and frankly, we have plenty of those as it is. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that if we don’t get a grip on this, it won’t be too many generations before America is a global laughing stock in terms of advancement, education, and general everything. Sure, there’ll always be super smart people, geniuses and entrepeneurs to lead the way in some fields, but the population as a whole will be idiots. Hell, I watch some of these shows on television like Street Smarts, and I want to kick my foot through the television. Just last night, I was watching a show, and a college senior said that she was a marketing major and that might have something to do with politics? She wasn’t sure. Sigh. Yes, just as there will always be geniuses, there will always be morons, but frankly, I don’t believe they should be in college. Some people (sit down for this one) just do not have what it takes to make it in college and should not go and waste their time and money doing so, especially because their doing so, scholarship or not, ensures that education suffers. Professors don’t and can’t teach to the top or even to the middle if the majority of his or her students are under and ill prepared for college or just plain don’t have the brain power to make it.

    Ooops, I’ve slipped off into another of my tangents. But only because you’ve given me so much to think about and say, BBB.

  8. I realize that I’ve made it sound as though the burden of admission standards should be placed on the students, and I don’t believe that at all. Colleges and universities are responsible for the decline in higher education in this country, and I think it’s a travesty.

  9. I figured I had better start writing my thoughts before I finish reading your response to my post before I forget my rebuttle. (God, I am so loving this!)

    1. Inequality because there would be more money for white scholorships.

    I never thought of that! In a way its a good point, but we do not live in a Markist society where everyone is the same and treated the same. Dang it, if there would be more scholorships because their is more money so be it. But then you go and throw a wrench into my way of thinking by mentioning more money, equals more white scholoships which in turn equals more unsuitable students in the mix that already effects the quality of education received. Gee…I thought I had that clearly sorted in my mind but now not so sure. However, if this is the case and we know scholorships will not go away,schools should accept an equal number of scholorship students accepted by students with the highest grades. Too overly simple. I mean, do the universities really care as long as the get their cash?

    2. Holding my sides and laughing so hard….most of the world will be idiots! OMG BBB. I can tell this subject touches you very closely. I know I found university quite a struggle. Yes, I was a single mom at the time and only going part time but the struggle I felt was due to me being ill prepared for university. I only went to University of Maine on the Bangor Campus a very small university compared to what we are discussing here. I was a high honor student all through high school. Business courses though and not academic courses which would have prepared me better. Just thinking on this, a bit…if entry to university was purely based on say, SAT scores or ability, it make this topic go away totally. If people could only attend University or college that suited their entry education level. Still can have those pesky scholorships but you have to meet more criteara then just being sporty or the right skin color or the son or daughter of a merchant marine. know what I mean. I think I have this sussed. Now all we have to do is lobby for this change. Use 360 as our starting point, get the appropriate amount of signatures and see what we can do….LMAO…its fun getting carried away!

    Oops, perhaps I have wondered off track here a bit. This blog was about white scholorships…Let me get back on track. White scholorships are a great idea to make a statement, a statement that white people should shout from the roof tops…We are the new minority! Now I not a white supremist..chuckle..chuckle..but zeeish…give us what the other folk have for the same reasons!

    On a completely different note, was reading an ariticle on the internet today about the decreasing numbers of white people, particularly, american, european and British. The ariticle seemed to be hinting that by the end of this century pure white folk may be an indangered species. Bet we will get our free scholorships then!

  10. When Alex was applying for scholarships, he only received one, for $100.00, from the school union that John works at. the only reason he got that one is because only four kids applied. He applied for many scholarships, but was over qualified because we, his parents made too much money. I think that is why. All of his college is beign paid for with student loans. He will be $70,000 in debt when he graduates. He finished high school with a 3.85 GPA, in the right classes, all academic, with the exception of the sports ansd electives. How wonderful, this young smart white man gets to start his carreer and life deeper in debt than most people are right now that are in his age group. and this goes for all the other young white men who’s parents both worked hard to make sure they lived a good life and stayed out of trouble. but that doesnt matter if your white. this topic has always really pissed me off. I have always wondered, what would a black/asion.mexican group say if we wanted to start a white young peoples club, for young white people to discuss their issues. or what ever they would discuss. I know waht would happen. it would be put in the papers taht that group is a racist group and it wouldnt be allowed. nowhere. not in schools especially. though there are every other kind of different race groups all over the place, for support, discussing issues what ever. I am not racist, but this sure does make me sound like one. Could we say that now, being racist against white, even if your white, is ok.
    and by the way, this jumpimg blog comment box is nausieating.

  11. Lisa’s son is a living example of what we are discussing in the blog topic! I like Lisa’s comment about starting a young white peoples club to talk about white issues and if it were to happen it would be labelled as a racist group! Go figure. Good point Lisa!

  12. Hey Amb, you are too funny!! Just like you to latch on to my over the top statement about idiots!! I get all worked up and the wrongest things pop out of my head and onto the page. You do bring up a super good point (as does Lisa) and that is that anyone attempting to defend whites immediately gets accused of or feels guilty of being a “white supremacist.” Geez. No one is saying a thing about every other race and culture attempting to protect and further themselves (as they should be able to do), but the minute a white person does it, it’s all white hoods and burning crosses. Lot a load of rot. We need to speak up now, not for supremacy, but for our own rights and culture! It’s disappearing at an alarming rate in this country, and that isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. And certainly not on its own!!

    Huggs, Lisa, that sucks about your son’s experience with scholarships, and his is not a unique situation with regard to starting life so far in the hole with enormous loans to pay back!! The average college graduate has enormous student loans and a great deal of additional consumer debt weighing them down from the day they graduate (well, the loans don’t kick in for six months, but you know what I mean). And this is the start of adult life; they want a family, a home, a future. It saddens me so much that our kids are in this situation and that our politicians are working to provide ILLEGAL immigrants with free tuition!! It doesn’t just sadden me, it makes me mad.

  13. And true, Lisa and Amber, as a matter of fact, there have been acutal cases of white or Christian clubs not being allowed to meet on high school campuses and not being supported by the school system. It’s an outrage!!

  14. Dont even get me started on the College tuition for illegal immigrants/trespassers/law breakers. As far as I am concerned , that is what they all are. ok, breath deep, thats a different topic all togethter. Alex is going into the Airforce after he graduates, and they will pay $10,000 of his debt. That is what they told him anyway. I would get it in writing before i signed anything.

  15. Is he going in just to get the debt reduced? Or is that a side benefit of beginning a career he’s interested in? Just curious, really. Anyway, huggs to you Lisa!

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