The Black Student League will join a public interest center's imminent lawsuit against the University which claims the administration does not provide enough "Mayor's Scholarships" to needy Philadelphia high schoolers. The BSL is the second University group in a week to announce that it will join the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia's suit alleging the University is in violation of an agreement with the city which requires it to provide the scholarships. "Basically [the University] is not holding up their end of the agreement," BSL President Jessica Dixon said last night. "This is something that all students from Philadelphia should be concerned about." The African American Association of Faculty, Staff and Administrators, who announced their intent to join the suit last week, said the BSL's decision was independent of theirs. "We're are enthusiastically happy that the BSL joined," AAA Tri-chairperson James Gray said last night. "There are other University groups looking at the documentation and considering joining as well." General Counsel Shelley Green said last week that the University had not been served with the complaint. A series of city ordinances and agreements dating back to the 19th century require the University to give out the equivalent of 125 full scholarships each year to Philadelphia students in exchange for land. On August 1, 1977, the University consolidated a 1882 and 1910 agreement "to establish and forever maintain at least 125 four-year full tuition scholarships, or their equivalent, in any of the departments of the University, to be awarded annually by the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia to deserving students from all of the schools of the City." But the University and PILCOP disagree over whether the University should provide a total of 125 scholarships in any one year, or should establish 125 new four-year scholarships each year. "The heart of it is 125 four-year full tuition scholarships to be awarded annually by the mayor," PILCOP attorney Tom Gilhool said earlier this month. "In any given generation there should be 500." "It says annually because that is what it means," Dixon said. "Annually does not mean once every four years." But President Sheldon Hackney said at a University Council meeting earlier this month that he had met with Mayor Wilson Goode in June "to review our implementation of these scholarships, and both the University and the city agree that we are meeting our commitments." Dixon added one of the reasons BSL joined the lawsuit was that many Philadelphia high schoolers are not aware of the scholarship which could influence their decision to come to the University. She said many were not told by their high school, the city of Philadelphia or the University about the program. "My question to the University is if everything is on the up and up about this scholarship, why did they not make everyone aware of it?" AAA Trichairperson Tom Henry said. "It makes me wonder if the scholarship process has been run properly -- which I doubt." In the last academic year there were 162 Mayor's Scholars enrolled at the University and, according to Green, the scholarships were valued at over $1.8 million. Dixon said a rally protesting the University's stance on the scholarships will be held Thursday on College Green.Comments powered by Disqus
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