|by James L. Morrison
[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in
On the Horizon, 1992, 1(3), 6. It is posted here with permission
from Jossey Bass
The University of California
Board of Regents recently decided to accept a scholarship bequest for "very poor
Caucasian American scholars." The acceptance of this bequest reflects a major change
in policy regarding racially delimited bequests and marks the end of the color-blind
ideal. Years ago, racially discriminatory funds were readily accepted by the University
with no questions asked. However, after the civil rights revolution of the 1960s, the
University decided to continue to administer the old racially delimited bequests, but to
discourage the acceptance of any additional bequests. Five years later, the university
took a tougher stand on the racial issue. The racial restrictions of old bequests were
ignored and new bequests that contained racial restrictions were not accepted.
By 1977, affirmative action replaced
color-blindness as the new Zeitgeist. The University accepted racially restrictive
donations as long as the University could find unrestricted funds to match the restricted
funds. However, now fifteen years later, the policy has come full circle. The University
has accepted a bequest that explicitly excludes minority groups without seeking
unrestricted matching funds.
The acceptance of the bequest is
consistent with a new national attitude of race-conscious dispensation, most recently
evidenced by the racial gerrymandering of congressional districts. While the intent of the
congressional redistricting plan is to provide greater representation for minorities in
government, the unintended consequence is clear. Segregating blacks in one district
inevitably segregates whites in surrounding districts.
What is most tragic about these policies
is that "the world has long looked to us as the most successful multi-racial,
multi-ethnic society on the globe. Rather than continue the pursuit of the traditional
American ideal of common citizenship, we are sliding back to the kind of group rights
Balkanization that has been tried everywhere from Beirut to Belgrade, with consequences
too sorrowful to recount." [Krauthammer, C. (1992, October 5). Racist bequest a sign
of slide back to exclusion. The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC, 9A.]
Colleges and universities are now more likely to be offered race/ethnic restricted money.
Barring the adoption of IRS regulations forbidding the tax deductibility of such
donations, development offices must be prepared to formulate policies regarding accepting
such funds. Can we defend a double standard in which funds restricted to minorities are
acceptable, while funds restricted to whites are not? How do we respond to this question
given the policy to increase diversity on college campuses?