According to the “Salt Lake Tribune”, Curtis Oda, the man behind HJR24, called affirmative action “a failure…You’re promoting discrimination to stop discrimination. You’re telling these people, ‘You’re not good enough to do it on your own. Let’s just hand it to you.’”
Where is this really happening, at least at the level of public education? None of these local groups have been proven to be giving preferential treatment of some kind to their scholarship recipients.
It may be understandable that some members of the dominant racial group in Utah feel affirmative action is a fancy legal name for what might be called “reverse racism,” or that awarding a Native American a scholarship “for the sake of being Native American” is somehow unfair to them specifically.
But the all-too-common retort that a white college male who has been raised in a middle class household his entire life is somehow being cheated out of a scholarship if said scholarship is instead awarded to a member of a Native American tribe, who has achieved academic success, and who wishes to move forward but may be economically and socially impeded.
UVU is pretty helpful if you’re having problems paying for school and you don’t have access to the Tongan student aid program. If you’re too rich to qualify for the Pell Grant, then that means you don’t get free government money because your tax records show you or your parents have the means to get you that cutting edge microwave for your dorm – and you can deal with it.
The scholarships awarded to ethnic minorities on UVU campus certainly adhere to similar criteria: the applicants for the scholarships offered through the Multicultural Center’s many programs must display service and academic merit.
They offer services available to anyone on campus looking for social networking or tutoring – not to mention that the Multicultural Center’s financial advisor is the most approachable, knowledgeable and capable one on campus; one or two brief visits and the aid arrives before school starts. But their scholarships are specific to the demographic they serve: a group of a few hundred students who are usually far from their homes, who are one of only a few family members, if any, seeking higher education.
These students are passionate about learning, but worry about the inventory in their cupboards more often than they should. If objectors to affirmative action are in a similarly difficult situation, there is aid available for them too.
I don’t know how HJR24 will affect those multicultural scholarship programs, although I believe it may. Ultimately, however, I hope the integrity of the financial aid our campus provides to non-white students will survive any potential negative repercussions of the bill.