Duchess Harris, chairperson of the undergraduate assembly, is not worried about paying for the rest of her undergraduate education. It's paying for graduate school that may be the problem. Harris is one of many minority students at the University who are concerned by recent changes in the federal government's position on scholarships that are set aside just for minorities. These students said last week that the Bush administration's opposition to minority-only scholarships may hamper opportunities for future students. Current students, they said, won't be affected too much, but those just starting out their graduate or undergraduate careers may be facing tough times. Harris, who studied at Oxford University last summer as a Mellon Scholar, said she may not be able to attend graduate school if fellowship money is not available. She said she feels she can compete on even ground with non-minorities for other fellowships, but added that she won't have the back-up of special programs. Other minority student leaders are similarly concerned. Black Student League President Jessica Dixon said rescinding the scholarships sends a false message that black and white students start out on equal financial footing. "I think [the policy] is a big step back," Dixon said last week. "It's sending a message from the U.S. government that they're not making an effort to improve the education of blacks." "During the civil rights movement, our ancestors fought hard to get us admitted to universities," she added. "Now that we have the ability to come here, they're taking away our economic chance." Dixon said she thinks the proposed change will affect students still in high school and those in state schools because the policy seems to be directed more toward public colleges. Phan Lam, chairperson of Students for Asian Affairs, said she is not so concerned about the policy shift because Asian-Americans are not considered an under-represented minority group by admission officials, and are not helped by the aid. She added, however, that some Asian-Americans do need financial aid and should have the opportunity to receive special grants for minorities. "They shouldn't be neglected because of the 'model-minority' image that has been stereotypical for most Asian-American students," Lam said. Joel Del Rosario, president of Asociacion Cutural de Estudiantes Latinos Americanos, said he thinks the proposed policy will raise students' consciousness. He said students could form a lobby group comprised of various minorities within the next year to combat the changes. "The question is what kind of stance are we going to make on this policy," he said last week. "I think students across the country are questioning the U.S.'s commitment to education . . . are they committed to diversity or are they committed to cutting corners?" Carmen Maldonado, president of the latino sorority Sigma Lambda Upsilon, said the proposal could only hurt minorities. "I can't see where it's helping," Maldonado said last week. "I can only see where it's hurting." "[Scholarship money] may be your ticket to something better and it's taken away from you," she added. Lorraine Flores, president of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, said that minority applications will decrease if financial aid is cut.Comments powered by Disqus
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