Facing mounting criticism, Columbia University has called for an end to a scholarship program established at the school decades ago that selects recipients based on skin color — Caucasians only.
“The trust contains provisions that are impracticable and/or are inconsistent with Columbia’s administrative procedure,” Assistant Provost Lucy Drotning said in papers filed with the court, the New York Post reported.
It’s the Lydia C. Roberts Graduate Fellowship that’s in question, because its funds are restricted to “a person of the Caucasian race,” the fellowship terms state, as the Post reported.
The Post said it wasn’t clear if the scholarship, which was established in 1920 with awards of about $750, complied with the “whites only” mandate. But at least one university head, Provost Grayson Kirk, defended the racial requirement in 1949 after the NAACP protested.
“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,” Mr. Kirk said at the time, as the Post reported.
The scholarship came from the heir of a medical-patent company. It opened with $509,000 in 1920 and now has more than $800,000. But none of the restrictions for its disbursement can be changed without a court order. No funds have been awarded since 1997, the Post reported.