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Multiple universities offer ‘cultural diversity scholarships’

One scholarship appeared to exclude white people

Several institutions of higher education are offering “cultural diversity scholarships” to their students, aid packages meant to increase the socio-ethnic diversity of the campuses in question.

On Utah Valley University’s Multicultural Student Services website, the school displays a quote by James T. Ellison: “The real death of America will come when everyone is alike.” The school’s Cultural Diversity Scholarship, the site states, is meant to “provide students an opportunity to attend Utah Valley University. It is a needs-based scholarship, so specific factors are considered in order to be awarded this scholarship.”

Among those qualifications, interested students must be current Utah residents, have at least a 2.0 grade point average for new and transferring individuals or above a 2.5 GPA for continuing students, and must be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours. The scholarship also requires a written essay for admittance.

The essay prompt requests “one page stating your cultural background, what you would do to promote academic, professional, and personal growth within yourself and multicultural students at UVU.” The aid package helps cover the cost of the fall and spring semesters, providing two 1/2 tuition remissions, one to be used each term.

Utah Valley University did not respond to queries from The College Fix asking how frequently the scholarship is awarded and whether or not the school had observed a social change in the university’s campus because of it.

Native Americans, ‘economically disadvantaged students’

The University of North Dakota provides its own version of a cultural diversity scholarship to interested and qualified students. That school was similarly reluctant to discuss its diversity aid.

Reached via email, the university initially offered a link to the school’s scholarship page, which The Fix had obtained prior to contacting the university. The Fix contacted the school several more times for more information on the scholarship. The school eventually responded that “the information on the page provided is the extent of information regarding this scholarship, which we are proud to offer to our students.”

According to the school’s website, the scholarship is meant to “promote enrollment of a culturally diverse student body, including members of Indian tribes and economically disadvantaged students, for the benefit of all students and the academic community.”

Students eligible to receive the scholarship are required to have a GPA of at least 3.00 and have a minimum 20 ACT or 1020 SAT score. Interested applicants also must be members of a “historically under-represented” group. The school lists African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans as examples.

School has had multiple diversity scholarships

The Minnesota State Community and Technical College has actually been involved with numerous diversity scholarships. But the original scholarship, administered by the Fergus Area College Foundation, one of two established institutions attached to the school, was taken down from the school’s website shortly after a College Fix inquiry.

The scholarship application, a copy of which was screenshot by The College Fix, seemed specifically intended for nonwhite students; it stated that “the Fergus Area College Foundation will award twelve cultural diversity scholarships per year to encourage diversity at the College and empower students of color to achieve educational success.” The scholarship amount was $600.

Racial characteristics are not mentioned in the “scholarship criteria” section of the application, though elsewhere the application does ask students for their “predominant ethnic background.”

As of May 30, the scholarship application form was active on the college’s website. However, after The Fix reached out to the school in order to inquire about the package, the scholarship information was scrubbed without explanation. The page now displays a “404 – Not Found” error.

Reached for comment via phone, Lori Larson, director of the Fergus Area College Foundation, told The College Fix that the scholarship in question “is no longer in existence and I do not know if it was even used.” Larson confirmed that she removed the scholarship after receiving The Fix’s query. She stated said she wasn’t sure when the previous scholarship was discontinued. She suggested that the older document was from 2009, pointing to the URL of the application, which contains the numbers “0209.”

Larson stated that the Fergus Area College Foundation does currently offer a cultural diversity scholarship, but that it is different from the one previously listed on the school’s website. She said that it is “nondiscriminatory—anyone can apply, men, women, anyone.”

She provided The Fix with a copy of an essay question present on the foundation’s application. That question reads: “Describe your cultural identity and how it plays a role in your academic pursuits. Please be specific in your answer. Consider items such as: Have you had challenges because of cultural barriers? Have you had successes? What would you like to do to educate others about cultural differences?”

Larson said that this “the only question [for the cultural diversity scholarship] and the only evaluation done to be eligible for it.”

Asked if the previous scholarship had been limited only to nonwhite applicants, as the application suggested, Larson said she didn’t know.

The foundation has awarded the cultural diversity scholarship at least once in recent years An issue of M State magazine published in the fall of 2018 lists dozens of scholarships awarded by the organization over the previous school year. One student was cited as attending the college with help from the cultural diversity scholarship.

MORE: Woman-only scholarships may be in violation of Title IX

MORE: University offers scholarship that excludes heterosexual students

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