The move was intended to provoke discussion on “the morally wrong practice” of using “racial preferences rather than merit” in awarding scholarship money, according to a statement from the BU Republicans.
The Republican group’s president, Joseph J. Mroszczyk, said last night that he first heard of the idea for a Caucasian-only scholarship from Jason Mattera, the former College Republicans president at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. who initiated a similar program there.
Mroszczyk said in an interview that his organization was protesting the National Hispanic Recognition Program, the only scholarship offered at BU for which ethnicity is a prerequisite. He added that reaction to the Caucasian-only scholarship has been “mostly positive,” and that he has received dozens of e-mails supporting the plan. Since the story was first reported in the B.U. Daily Free Press yesterday, the Republicans’ move has garnered attention nationally—including from blogger Matt Drudge and FOX News’ Brit Hume.
But in interviews last night, several Harvard students said that the Caucasian-only scholarship was divisive.
“An act such as this is probably not going to help people on the other side of the table understand where the BU Republicans are coming from,” said Jason C. B. Lee ’08, president of the Harvard Black Students Association. “We’re open to discussion, but we think it should be done in a less inflammatory way.”
Leaders of Harvard’s political community agreed, criticizing the means used by the BU Republicans.
“If they want to have a serious debate about affirmative action, that’s one thing,” said Eric P. Lesser ’07, former president of the Harvard College Democrats. “But if they want to resort to these gimmicks, then that’s despicable.”
“The statement they’re making is worthwhile,” said Mark A. Shepard ’08, the former vice president of the Harvard College Republicans, “but they are themselves engaging in discrimination to protest discrimination.”
“This idea is completely ridiculous,” Vijay G. Warrier ’09 said. “But if this scholarship is awarded, Indian-Americans should be allowed to apply because any reasonable usage of the term ‘Caucasian’ would include most Indians.”
Many anthropologists and biologists believe that those who live in present day India and Pakistan are genetically Caucasian, having emigrated from Western Eurasia centuries ago.
“Any other usage would reveal the true purpose of this scholarship, which is to stoke racial tensions,” Warrier added.
—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.