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DT: come reap

What year is it again?

Posted on 2004.17.03 at 08:02
How I feel about it all: infuriateddisgusted
Soundtrack: Archived Episode of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
From lj_democrats



BRISTOL, R.I.

On the campus of a small liberal arts school unaccustomed to student activism, Roger Williams University junior Jason Mattera and his band of College Republicans revel in their ability to stand out.

No topic, from gay marriage to feminism, has been off limits since Mattera organized the conservative group his freshman year.

But a Whites-only scholarship that required applicants to “confirm Whiteness” awoke the normally sleepy coastal campus, eliciting criticism from minority students and from the chairman of the Republican National Committee — who suspended the group’s right to use the party’s symbols.

School President Roy Nirschel also criticized the scholarship. Last month he cut short a trip to Vietnam to begin what he called “a healing process” that included forming a commission on civil discourse. Yet Mattera, rated the nation's top conservative student activist by one group, remains unbowed. He said the debate over free speech and affirmative action was just what he wanted. And he promises more.

“We did our job,” said Mattera, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y. “This is what college is all about, challenging the status quo.”

The 35-member group first clashed with university administration last year over a series of monthly newsletter articles. The articles accused homosexuals of squelching free speech by pushing for hate-crimes legislation and alleged that a well-known gay-rights group indoctrinates students into homosexual sex.

The administration froze the college Republicans’ money for two days because Nirschel saw the articles as “gay bashing.” He said he received threatening letters claiming he was suppressing the group.

Then another article critical of Kwanzaa, which celebrates the history and heritage of Africa, sparked a complaint by a multicultural student group. Before the Student Senate had a chance to deal with that issue, the College Republicans came up with the Whites-only scholarship.

The application for the $250 award required an essay on “why you are proud of your White heritage” and a recent picture to “confirm Whiteness.” “Evidence of bleaching will disqualify applicants,” read the application.

Mattera, who is of Puerto Rican descent, said the scholarship was a parody of minority scholarships. Mattera himself was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the Hispanic College Fund, he said. “Those who come from White (descent) are left to find scholarships on their own,” Mattera said.

The Whites-only scholarship generated national publicity, which angered university officials and many students who worried their school was being labeled as racist. Minorities make up less than 10 percent of the 3,400 full-time undergraduates.

Some minorities on campus, like Maria Ahmed, a 20-year-old junior from Providence, felt targeted. “At first it was about the newspaper, just about every issue they were bashing some small minority group,” said Ahmed, whose parents were born in Nigeria. “It’s hard being a minority on campus, and it felt like (they) were directly talking about you.”

The scholarship was criticized by the state Republican Party and Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee. In a Feb. 17 letter to Mattera, Gillespie said the scholarship conveys a “message of exclusion” that doesn’t represent the party’s values. He suspended the group’s right to use the party’s symbols.

Nirschel, who’s eager to attract more minority students and faculty members, called the scholarship “repugnant” and convened a town meeting on campus he said attracted more than 500 people. The meeting, he said, was the first of its kind in the university’s history. His commission includes faculty and student members and has already decided to organize a debate team and create a journal of civil discourse. “This has caused me to redouble our efforts to make the campus open,” he said.

Mattera, however, received plenty of support too. The scholarship was raised from $50 to $250 due to increased donations the group received. The American Civil Liberties Union backed the group’s right to free speech after the Student Senate considered taking away its funding, once the scholarship was awarded to Adam Noska, a 21-year-old junior from Weymouth, Mass. The Senate set aside the issue.

And some students liked the idea of a Whites-only scholarship. “Nothing gets to me more than affirmative action,” said Jamie Pattison, 19, a sophomore from Marblehead, Mass. “People want handouts.”

Ron Robinson, president of the Young America's Foundation, said Mattera is the conservative Virginia-based group’s top-rated student activist in country.

“He’s a very gutsy young man ... it really takes an adversarial atmosphere for a person’s leadership ability to come to the fore,” Robinson said.

Despite initial plans to make the scholarship annual, Mattera said it won't be offered next year.

“We’ll continue to fight affirmative action ... but I think I made the point,” he said.

The Whites-only scholarship may end up doing more than advancing Mattera’s conservative agenda, however.

After getting criticized for accepting the scholarship, Noska pledged to donate the money to a fund benefiting victims’ families and survivors of The Station nightclub fire. Last year’s blaze at the West Warwick nightclub killed 100 people and injured some 200 others.

Noska said he also collected more than $750 in campus donations for the fund.

“I walk around campus with a 64-ounce jug and people put money in, I take it to class and sit it on my desk,” he said.

He originally planned to buy books with the scholarship money, but Noska now wants “something good” to come from it.

—Associated Press

Bleh. I live in RI, and this just...*sigh* Yeah, I'm coherent.

Comments:


the day you left was just my beginning
patchfire at 2004-03-17 05:40 (UTC) ()
Why, obviously, it must be 1896!

Hell, things weren't quite like that even right after WWII, before the Civil Rights Movement began, because a number of GIs had served alongside people of other races. I find this more repugnant because you had a number of people who just didn't like change. This is someone actively pushing for 'change' in a horrible manner.
let's get the seven lines.
bookshop at 2004-03-17 07:05 (UTC) ()
Many things about this article infuriate me. *ESPECIALLY* the bit about how they were only deprived of college funding for TWO DAYS after their gay-bashing. (Why is "gay-bashing" in quotes? It's not that hard to figure out when something is being bashed or not, people.)

alleged that a well-known gay-rights group indoctrinates students into homosexual sex.

*headdesks* WHY do people always make claims and accusations like this? Why why why? I have yet to hear any secret expose of how local GLBT activist organizations are going around like thieves in the night and recruiting people to the Gay Agenda like the people on BaitBus.com. It's just LUDICROUS. who really expects to make unfounded accusations that way and not be 1) despised; 2) completely discredited in the eyes of people who might otherwise have listened to what they have to say; 3) held at arm's length by whatever university/community they're a part of?

I honestly can't believe they only got their assets frozen for 2 days for that, though. That's a slap on the wrist and then some, and if only for that the college president has no one but himself to blame for the trouble they're stirring up now.

That said, I think that while the conservative group's attitude and mentality is totally, totally ass-backward, they did a decent job at keeping the attention focused on discussion and debate of the issue of affirmative action, and they obviously gave the scholarship to the right person, since he was able to do what he did with the money. :) He deserves much more credit than they do--but I do think they deserve just a little for being motivated more by discussion than by an adamant need to uphold the status of the S.W.C.A.M.

:)
Gwen
ladyguenivere at 2004-03-17 08:59 (UTC) ()
i'm not saying i like affirmative action or any ethnicity getting money for being born in their skin, but there are Black-only and Asian-only (etc., etc.) scholarships too. I hope they all get in trouble.

I know at the school I went to tons of people got scholarships based on race cos they dont call it "Affirmative Action" anymore. But I got nothing. That's a pisser.

I also think it's interesting that on surveys and whatnot, there's a million different ethnicities to chose from and then there's "White." WTF? I dont get to be from somewhere too? Everyone else gets to have an ethnic identity, but not people who are white. I hate that. I always tick "other" and then fill in the blank with something like European-American or English Heritage or something. Rude rude rude.

I'm not surprised people are finally taking action, but they aren't doing it very well. O_o Two wrongs certainly don't make a right.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-03-17 11:11 (UTC) ()
I always tick "other" and then fill in the blank with something like European-American or English Heritage or something.

This is a good idea. Usually "Black" is also a general choice on those forms, too, like somehow Africa doesn't contain a whole host of nations (not to mention Australia, the Carribean, Haiti, you name the country).

I have been known to tick "other" and write in "human".

I think Affirmative Action has a place in a world where people are denied access because of skin colour or ethnicity. This rarely, rarely happens with white Euro-Americans anymore (thank goodness that "No Irish Need Apply" seems to be fading out of fashion, or I'd be out of a job. :/) Affirmative action is imperfect as hell, but in an imperfect world such as ours I believe it's still necessary. I hope someday it won't be.

And, yeah, two wrongs don't make a right. Certainly creating "Whites only" scholarships isn't doing anything to further equality.
Gwen
ladyguenivere at 2004-03-17 11:21 (UTC) ()
i dunno. I mean, there are plenty of This-Race-Only Scholarships out there. There's a ton for minorities. I dont think it's fair to allow them for some races and not others. Either they're all allowed or all banned. Just because I was born white doesn't mean I have a huge bank account or any more opportunity than anyone else. (At least, not where I live. I know it's a different situation in different places in the country.) But just because you're white doesn't mean you have money.

Heck, the guy that's in charge around here has said he'd not hire anymore white people and will only promote hispanic people. Why is that allowed? That's racist too.

A friend of mine said as long as it's against white people, it shouldn't be considered racist. WTF?! That's so totally wrong.

I don't have a problem with "White Only" scholarships as long as they are not trying to say they're better than anyone else. However, scholarships for hispanic students sometimes require a "hispanic pride" essay as well. Why isn't that racist? Why is it considered racist to have pride in your culture if you're white?

try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2004-03-17 17:24 (UTC) ()
Why is it considered racist to have pride in your culture if you're white?

I'm not proud of being White. I'm proud of my culture, which isn't the same thing. I'm proud of being Scots-Irish, because there's a source of pride there; a history and a heritage. White is just the supposed colour of my skin (which is not white, anymore than anyone who's not albino's skin is white. We're all shades of brown, really). I can't take pride in a skin tone.

I think that maybe (and I don't know because I'm not them)this is why Black Americans often like to be called African-American or Jamaican-American or something like that. It makes their heritage more than just their skin tone. Our varying heritages are all rich and full and so much more than the amount of Melatonin in our skin.

A friend of mine said as long as it's against white people, it shouldn't be considered racist. WTF?! That's so totally wrong.

Yep, it sure is. Bigotry against white people is still bigotry. Racism comes in all colours, I've found. *sigh* Sometimes I wish we were all blind.
sunshine superman
animated_vixen at 2004-03-17 18:03 (UTC) ()
What? You mean Africa isn't just one big country?
Really Sunny
willysunny at 2004-03-17 09:32 (UTC) ()
Yeah, I'm coherent.

I don't think I am. What kind of shit-arse shit is that shit? Ahem. Erm. Excuse me.

*babbles and bangs head on desk*
Not cool enough to have a witty name here.
jessindistress at 2004-03-17 15:17 (UTC) ()
OMFG.

Man, I never realised how oppressed white males were in comparison to, you know, everyone else. Gawd forbid, this equality thing takes some of their priviledge away.

*is dead*

~Jess
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